As you’ll know if you follow this blog, on Fridays Sarah and I walk. In fact, so popular have these proved with readers, they have their own section on the blog.
But there are other walks. Which happen because of friendship. But also to discuss ideas. Because ideas tend to flow more easily when you’re walking. Ideas about society, enterprise and life in general. And throughout this year I’ve been walking with Greg.
Greg Walker is a serial social entrepreneur, with Dove Design, SRJ and Create, helping long-term unemployed people get back into work and training by things like making furniture and recycling white goods. So many unemployed people, in fact, that Greg was proud to be presented with an OBE earlier this year.
And as we walk we talk about our latest ideas. What’s working, what isn’t, what we might try next. And sometimes we just enjoy the places where we are, the rhythm of walking, and each others company.
Like today, when for the first time Greg was introduced to the Lost Liverpool walk. Hearing with a certain amount of fear that I’ve been known to run this one in 33 minutes, Greg worried he was in for a hard time. But in fact we spent nearly 3 hours exploring a little seen, mostly off-road area of Liverpool. Like it’s the late 18th century. And it’s the days of slavery.
In late eighteenth century Liverpool the slave trade is still going strong. The bigger transatlantic ships have not been good news for Bristol’s docks, hard to get the ships up the Avon from the Severn. So Liverpool has most of the trade now and a population of over 75,000.
Meaning the centre of town has now become too crowded for the liking of the wealthier merchants, most of them involved in the slave trade to some extent. So they’ve moved themselves out here. And today we’re going to see where some of the money from the slaves and the products of slaves – tobacco, sugar, cotton – is being spent.
But back in the late eighteenth century we go through the back gate of Allerton Towers, estate of the Earle family, notorious slave traders and privateers, having moved themselves here from their former edge of town estate around what will become Earle Road.
So Greg can’t yet recycle it.
Here we stopped for a drink, out of these ‘flask’ things that have recently become so popular.
Then we left Allerton Towers. And passing close to the village of Woolton found more grand houses.
Up the hill and past the residence of ‘Woolton’ and its sadly locked walled garden (yes, a shame so many of these places have such similar names) we reach Camp Hill. One of the highest places in the Liverpool area and originally said to be settled by Celtic peoples thousands of years ago.
We walk down Camp Hill and across the fields that will later become graveyards for the huge city of Liverpool.
To arrive at our final house of the day.
Yes, the third mansion called ‘Allerton’ something. This one, at last, inhabited by an abolitionist, William Roscoe. Unlike the others this will still be in use into the early 21st century. As a pub, mainly catering to the trade from the local graveyards and crematorium.
And before long we find ourselves back in the timeless lanes.
Where the talk is of bankers and greed and the iniquities of an economic system that makes the poorest of the people pay for the crimes of the wealthy. And we wonder how much has really changed since the days of slavery.