Walking with Greg: The Dockers’ Steps in Springtime

A further seasonal instalment in our ‘Walking with Greg’ series.

A day off working, to walk around with a friend in the Springtime sunshine. Well, it was sunny some of the time.

Greg arrives in time to see Sarah.

Greg arrives in time to see Sarah.

Sarah won’t be coming out with us as she’s running a Ceremony for someone later today.

So we’re soon off along Penny Lane to show Greg Greenbank House.

Where William Rathbone and William Roscoe would discuss how they could help to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Where William Rathbone and William Roscoe would discuss how they could help to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

And a later William Rathbone would discuss her ideas about nursing with Florence Nightingale. And then  Eleanor Rathbone, the great suffragette, would grow up dreaming of practical ways to change the world. And then did.Dockers' Steps03 Dockers' Steps04

fff

One of Liverpool’s most precious, unused and almost secret places. Greg lived nearby for several years and had never thought that within the grounds of these student halls such a treasure could be hidden.

Greenbank Park, previously part of the grounds of Greenbank House.

Greenbank Park, previously part of the grounds of Greenbank House.

Next it's across Sefton Park.

Next it’s across Sefton Park.

And through Georgian splendour

And through Georgian splendour

Into beautiful Princes Park.

Into beautiful Princes Park.

Greg’s first time in here. Quiet today, well-cared for without being manicured. (The park I mean.)

Out through the beautiful gates.

Out through the beautiful gates.

And round the corner into the Welsh Streets.

If you’re a previous visitor to this blog you’ll have been here many times before, and been outraged before at this senseless waste of empty homes. Greg is seeing these streets empty for the first time. Last time he was here they were fully occupied and the social enterprise he was running were delivering recycled fridges and cookers to the residents.

Today the streets are quiet.

Today the streets are quiet.

Street after street.

Street after street.

At the moment there are plans to replace these 400, mostly emptied houses,  with 150 new ones. But there is strong, well-organised, local opposition. And the arguments are not over yet even though the City council are currently lining up demolition contractors.

The house where Ringo was born is here.

The house where Ringo was born is here.

Today there’s a lovely song on the door, which I sing in the street for Greg. Written 50 years ago this month by Sam Cooke:

'I's been a long, long time comin' but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.'

‘It’s been a long, long time comin’ but I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.’

Then further along High Park Street, mysteriously, there are happily occupied streets not waiting to become a building site.

Then further along High Park Street, mysteriously, there are happily occupied streets of similar houses. However, these are still waiting to become part of the building site.

So I repeat the mantra – ‘People’s desire to live in houses like this, in streets like this, is not over.’ And hope that the by no means thoughtless people on the side of demolition may, even at this stage, open their minds to the possibility of something more creative than devastation.

We walk on.

Past Toxteth Reservoir. Containing no water now, just possibilities.

Past Toxteth Reservoir. Containing no water now, just possibilities.

Across Park Road and down to Mill Street, to the lovely Florrie.

Across Park Road and down to Mill Street, to the lovely Florrie.

We’ve been working here lately, so I’m keen to show Greg around.

The splendid sunlit gym.

The splendid sunlit gym.

The wonderful main hall. Greg looks out across the river to his Wirral home.

The wonderful main hall. Greg looks out across the river to his Wirral home.

Dockers' Steps23Next we have a look at what’s on in the Heritage Resource Centre. And find a new exhibition of The Florrie’s footballing history.

Dingle boy and Liverpool player, Jimmy Case.

Local boy and 3 times European Cup winner, Jimmy Case.

The European Cup. We've won it five times you know.

The European Cup. We’ve won it five times so far you know.

And Pelé's shirt. From the time Florence Albion took on and beat the mighty Brazilian World Cup winning team of 1958. Only joking.

And Pelé’s shirt. From the time Florence Albion took on and beat the mighty Brazilian World Cup winning team of 1958. Only joking.

We walk on from The Florrie.

We walk on from The Florrie.

Down more popular, and fully occupied terraced streets.

Down more popular, and fully occupied terraced streets.

To the Dockers’ Steps. Again, you may have read about these before, or you can now. But I love showing these Liverpool treasures to a friend who’s heard of them, but never walked down them before.

We walk in the footsteps of the dockers, early morning down to Herculaneum, to see if there is work for the day.

We walk in the footsteps of the dockers, early morning down to Herculaneum, to see if there is work for the day.

dsc09996And at the bottom we stop to admire Alan Murray’s lovely painting of the history of Liverpool.Dockers' Steps31 Dockers' Steps32

Then we reach the sun-shiney river and stop for a cup of tea.Dockers' Steps33 Dockers' Steps34

And walk upstream above the Cast Iron Shore to the site of the 1984 Garden Festival, where the Festival Gardens are open today (not always the case over recent months.)Dockers' Steps35

Then it’s up through St Michael’s, along Lark Lane and across Sefton Park to home. A lovely day rambling round Liverpool 8 & 17, through its past and its possible futures.Dockers' Steps36

Go here to find out more about The Florrie, or ring 0151 728 2323 to go in and see about running your corporate event or wedding in one of Liverpool’s loveliest venues.

And go here to find out more about the Welsh Streets.

16 thoughts on “Walking with Greg: The Dockers’ Steps in Springtime

  1. Taffy

    Wonderful tour description and you never left Toxteth on the whole of the walk. It may surprise some that there were two house named Greenbank in the same area. The second was once owned by Moses Benson, the well known Liverpool slave trader of the last quarter of the 18th C.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Taffy, yes many think that ‘Toxteth’ is just where it’s now defined, rather than the whole of the former Toxteth Deer Park.

      Where was the other Greenbank House?

      Reply
  2. Taffy

    I’d have to check my files but from memory, the second Greenbank was across Greenbank Lane from the first. My source is a publication on the history of the Rathbone Greenbank House which I cannot lay on my hands at the moment. Also the latter Greenbank House at one time had a different name.

    Reply
    1. Taffy

      To follow up on my comments above. The present Greenbank House was once called St Anslow. ( ref Adrian Allan ( 1987 ; Greenbank: A Brief History) The other Greenbank House was probably where Greenbank Park is nowadays. It once belonged to the well known Liverpool slave trader Moses Benson and was put on the market after his death in 1806. Moses Benson is buried at St James Church, Toxteth along with other members of his family.

      Reply
  3. stan cotter

    Yes Ronnie, I’ve always known that Toxteth Park took in such a large area including part of the Smithdown area and into Aigburth. But while down the Dockers’ Steps did you show Greg the casements running under Grafton Street?

    The houses from Gosford Street, where you took your photo, down Garswood Street and the Dockers’ Steps where always know as the Shorefields. My mother used to play there as a child before all those houses were built and there’s a photo knocking round showing an old lady stood outside the Bleak House pub on Cockburn Street during the same era.

    Reply
  4. cheethamlibMandy

    I enjoy these walks around Liverpool streets so much.The sad empty houses fill me with rage. Here on the other side of the world, inner city residential streets are so different, vrtually no terraces and a lot of gentrification. In some cases worker’s cottages have become mansions. The photographs are so good and give such a ‘sense of place’.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      The empty houses are in real danger now Mandy, crazy though that seems. I’m hoping sense prevails and the next picture you see isn’t of them being demolished.

      Reply
  5. Lyndel Helm

    Thanks for this. My 3 x great grandfather Bryan Craghill (1818-1852) was a butler in the Rathbone residence so this was a little bit of my family history.

    Reply
      1. Lyndel

        Craghills are a long way back for me (4 generations). I’ve uncovered family details my dad and aunts didn’t know about, so unfortunately we don’t know any Craghill relatives.

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