A Monday Walk

A second sunny day of the Bank Holiday weekend pulls me out on another walk around the wider neighbourhood of home.

Across Grant Avenue from our street is The Mystery. From there we can see down Lawrence Road to St Bridget's and the Catholic Cathedral beyond.

Across Grant Avenue from our street is The Mystery. From there we can see down Lawrence Road to St Bridget’s and the Catholic Cathedral beyond.

It’s a wonderful name ‘The Mystery’ as it was donated to the city in 1895 by a ‘mysterious donor.’ Soon discovered to be most likely shipping line owner, Philip Holt, the name’s stuck anyway.

Monday Walk02

Leaving The Mystery, a perfect tree.

In the spring green you only see in the Maytime.

In the spring green you only see in the Maytime.

Along Lawrence road to see how it's doing.

Along Lawrence road to see how it’s doing.

Not too bad is the answer. For a while a lot of the shops were empty, but a good number of newly arrived people have moved in and the shops are gently being reopened by some trading newcomers.

But a little further along, where Lawrence Road turns into Earle Road we find this.

Empty streets, the Webster Triangle.

Empty streets, the Webster Triangle.

Welcome to another piece of the blight that is the now cancelled ‘Housing Market Renewal Initiative.’ Having failed to be knocked down while the ‘initiative’ was still alive, these particular streets then failed to be renovated in the same failed renovation that did nothing for the Granby 4 Streets last year. Now they wait silently for their uncertain future. More empty homes people could be happily living in on this sunny day.

Monday Walk06

Vinca (Periwinkle), flowering anyway on the empty homes.

Bad as this is, not all of the streets were this lucky.

Bad as this is, not all of the streets were this lucky.

Vast fields of emptiness between Smithdown and Earle Roads. The harvest of the Housing Market Renewal Initiative.

Vast fields of emptiness between Smithdown and Earle Roads. The harvest of the failed Housing Market Renewal Initiative.

Nearby, some of the relatively few new homes that did manage to get built before 'austerity' slammed in.

Nearby, some of the relatively few new homes that did manage to get built before ‘austerity’ slammed in.

Closer to the city.

Closer to the city.

Up until the early 1970s the city’s magnificent stock of Georgian housing used to reach here, where Falkner Street reached the Lodge Lane crossroads. It was destroyed for an inner ring road that never happened.

Part of Falkner Street in 1965. Gone now.

Part of Falkner Street in 1965. Gone now.

The Riot Hills of Upper Parliament Street.
The Riot Hills of Upper Parliament Street.

Walking past the Women’s Hospital these little banks of earth look pleasant enough.

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Little woodland glades nestling in the Spring sunshine.

In fact much of the rioting of 1981 happened here, on what was then open land. So afterwards these little hills were constructed on either side of Upper Parliament Street, to make future public disorder more difficult. I’m aggrieved every time I walk past them. Even on this lovely day.

But my spirits are soon lifted.

By the magnificence of Falkner Square.

By the magnificence of Falkner Square.

From 1975 onwards I worked here for Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT). And still now, whenever I arrive at this gorgeous, complete Georgian square I think ‘Home’ and I’m at peace. I’ve never lived here, but I feel like I always have.

38, 39 & 40 Falkner Square. The old LHT offices. Now flats once more.

38, 39 & 40 Falkner Square, & 78 Canning Street. The old LHT offices. Now flats once more.

And in the Square there is a garden.

And in the Square there is a garden.

Leucojeum, Summer Snowflake.

Leucojum, Summer Snowflake.

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Magnolia Stellata.

And people in the Square, inconceivable in the days when I worked here.

And people in the Square, didn’t happen in the days when I worked here.

Never mind compost bins!

Never mind compost bins!

One day in 1973 I walked into this street, that leads into Falkner Square, for the first time. Hardly any cars and the houses all looking like they might fall down soon. But I loved it immediately, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Canning Street, Liverpool 8.

Canning Street, Liverpool 8.

Beautiful.

Beautiful.

Not all of the inner Canning area's Georgian housing was saved.

Not all of the inner Canning area’s Georgian housing was saved.

Crossing Catharine Street we arrive at a piece of personal Georgian.

My first girlfriend, Pat, lived in this ground floor flat in 36 Falkner Street in the 1970s.

My first girlfriend, Pat, lived in this ground floor flat in 36 Falkner Street in the 1970s.

A few years earlier the same flat had been owned by Brian Epstein, though we didn’t know it at the time. And when they first got married Brian had loaned the flat to John and Cynthia Lennon. Yes, no hyperlinks, you know who these people are.

In those days Falkner Street was pretty run down too. That’s why you could rent cheap flats there. We even bought some houses there for LHT for next to nothing. No longer.

Now there are pavement cafés we never imagined when this was a row of closed down shops.

Now there are pavement cafés we never imagined when this was a row of closed down shops.

I have my lunch looking down Mount Street.

I have my lunch looking down Mount Street.

Adrian Henri lived here. And the building on the left was the grammar school where Paul McCartney and George Harrison went. Now the partly McCartney funded Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

And on either side of me, there are Cathedrals.

A Roman Catholic one, where in May 1967 when it opened, I was one of the altar boys.

A Roman Catholic one, where in May 1967 when it opened, I was one of the altar boys.

And this one. My favourite building on the planet.

And this one. My favourite building on the planet.

But we’re not going into either of them today. I just want to be outside.

Walking past lovely Mornington Terrace...

Walking past lovely Mornington Terrace…

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Crossing to St James’ Garden.

This was a quarry which became a fashionable garden then graveyard in Victorian times, before becoming the Cathedral’s garden these days. I’ve always found it a mysterious place.Monday Walk31 Monday Walk33

These ramps

These ramps were for ‘promenading and funeral processions.’

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The grave of Kitty Wilkinson ‘Saint of the Slums.

Monday Walk34 Leaving the Cathedral, it’s time to begin heading for home. But we’re not quite finished with Georgian splendour yet.

Along Percy Street, St Bride's.

Along Percy Street, St Bride’s.

Nor are we finished with empty homes, Granby is just along Princes Avenue.

Beaconsfield Street in bloom.

Beaconsfield Street in bloom.

Crossing into Princes Park.Monday Walk39

Even the parks are opinionated in Liverpool, I'm proud to say.

Even the parks are opinionated in Liverpool, I’m proud to say.

Inside the park, another perfect tree.

Inside the park, another perfect tree.

My day’s walk nearly over I look back on these two days of walking round my neighbourhood and feel blessed and lucky.

We don’t know what happens when we die, and I suspect quiet oblivion. But I know now, on this earth, that I have lived in heaven. And I have walked around it.

Across Sefton Park.

Across Sefton Park.

And as the shadows lengthen on a perfect day, as is only right and proper…

They are playing cricket.

They are playing cricket.

And we are going, once again, to visit Sarah on Plot 44.Monday Walk43

Where the big news of the day…

Is that the pear tree has flowered. So there may be fruit this year, unlike last.

Is that the pear tree has flowered. So there may be fruit this year, unlike last.

As evening falls, a bumble bee in the Forget me Nots.

As evening falls, a bumble bee in the Forget me Nots.

I won’t forget.

16 thoughts on “A Monday Walk

  1. stan cotter

    Hi Ronnie, That “lucky street” isnt it near the bottom of Lodge Lane? Incidentally when I was born my parents lived in 99 Upper Parliament Street . In a flat mind not all of it. Those streets and houses must have been so beautiful in their heydays.

    Reply
  2. Gerry

    Like the previous walk, Ronnie, this one draws attention to the lovely things we pass each day and overlook. Great photography, as always. On the subject of that NHS poster: I have been with the Princes Park Health Centre, just round the corner since the days of the great socialist GP Cyril Taylor, who you may remember. I resigned from there last month when I learned that it had been taken over by SSP Health, part of a massive move by a company that is rapidly taking over GP practices across the North West (see: http://wp.me/poJrg-3Ke).

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Gerry for the explanation. Very sorry to hear about Princes Park. I remember Cyril Taylor from my early days in the Labour Party, a great man. And I’m surprised this takeover has happened if Katy Gardener is still there?

      Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Yes, both true Rachel. The ‘Canning’ area used to stretch up to the Lodge Lane crossroads, so about twice the size it is now. There are still isolated Georgian houses as Upper Parliament Street nears there. But they are all that survived. I once bought a piano off someone who lived in the ‘upper’ section of Falkner Street, and went round to collect it in a van around 1974, just before that part of the street was demolished.

      And yes, brought up as a Catholic, I was an altar boy in 1967 during the opening celebrations at the Cathedral!

      Reply
  3. cheethamlib

    The nastiness of progress – knocking down fine Georgian houses to build a ring road that never was built. Beyond belief. Lucky there are people like you who can record and share those that are still standing.

    So interesting that detail about your first girlfriend’s flat. Magical photographs, especially the forget-me nots.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      I think I’ll be doing a blog post about what we lost there. I’ve got quite a few photographs, one of which I’ve used in this post, but I’ll be able to go and get some more once the regenerated Central Library here opens soon.

      And yes, Pat’s flat – 10 years apart, but other than that a pretty close brush with John Lennon!

      Reply
  4. Helen Taylor

    Ronnie – found your site whilst searching for images of Adrian Henri’s streets (I took photos myself last time I was in Liverpool but it was terrible weather!), as I’m a PhD student writing about his work. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post, and will certainly be coming back. I love Liverpool, such a beautiful city which such varied architecture.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Helen. I never knew Adrian personally though I saw him perform many times and would generally see him around the place.

      There’s lots of Liverpool and its architecture to explore on here. So, hope to hear from you again.

      Reply
  5. lindsay53

    Ronnie, truly you are a contemporary historian! Beautiful snapshots in time. Horrified by the waste of homes left abandoned & empty but somehow hope for constructive ‘squatters’ to move in & breathe life back in!

    Reply

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