Inspecting Liverpool, part two

So, continuing my Sunday walk this week. It’s a beautiful, sunny day. And having walked to the Bold Street Festival, through Granby, Canning and down the hill from Hope Street, now I’m outside St George’s Hall.

Waiting for the 19 bus to take me to North Liverpool.

Waiting for the 19 bus to take me to North Liverpool.

I get off at Walton Lane and walk along Bullens Road to the first place I want to see.

Diana Street, Walton.

Diana Street, Walton.

This is the street of my earliest memories. We lived in two different shared houses here until I was three years old. I don’t remember any cars then, back in the 1950s. People like us just didn’t have them. But I do remember standing in the front window sometimes and watching thousands and thousands of people walk past the house.

Because at this end of the street is Goodison Park, the ground of Everton Football Club.

Because at this end of the street is Goodison Park, the ground of Everton Football Club.

Lovely to see Diana Street still settled and well after all these years.

Next I set off across Stanley Park.

Looking spectacularly beautiful in the sunshine.

Looking spectacularly beautiful in the sunshine.

The recently restored Isla Gladstone glass-house and bandstand.

The recently restored Isla Gladstone glass-house and bandstand.

Beautifully done.

Beautifully done.

Inspecting Liverpool 207

And looking out from there at my first swing park.

And looking out from there at my first swing park.

Stanley Park is looking very well indeed.

Stanley Park is looking very well indeed.

Lots of people and organisations have helped with this, including nearby Liverpool Football Club.

Even though we were living right next to Everton’s ground, I grew up under strict instructions to be a Liverpool FC fan. And I always have been.

But there have been times these last few years when my loyalty to the business side of the club has been stretched. Because they’ve been prevaricating over whether they wanted to build themselves a new stadium in part of Stanley Park, or stay where they are and renovate Anfield.

Earlier this year the decision was finally taken to stay at Anfield. But the years of prevarication, together with help from the notorious and failed Housing Market Renewal Strategy has been hard on the streets immediately surrounding the ground. People have literally not known whether they were coming or going.

With this result.

With this result. A sharp contrast to what we’ve just seen around Everton’s ground.

This is Alroy Road. If you’ve been following the blog for a while you might have been here before. On the ‘Anfield Home Tour‘ late last year.’ Not all these houses are empty, and not everyone wants to leave.

The empty homes increase as you get closer to the football ground.

The empty homes increase as you get closer to the football ground.

Inspecting Liverpool 212Who knows? Maybe now a decision has finally been taken then honourable resolutions can be worked out. But these have been several very hard years for these streets and the people living in them.

Over the road from the stadium 'Housing Market Renewal' is still in action.

Over the road from the stadium ‘Housing Market Renewal’ is still in action.

Very little left of the 'V' streets now.

Very little left of the ‘V’ streets now.

The new developments getting closer.

The new developments getting closer.

So in the midst of all this doubt and demolition it warms the heart to walk round the corner and find Homebaked.

The community bakery will be opening for business any week now.

The treasured community bakery will be opening for business any week now.

The equipment they got through their phenomenal ‘Kickstarter’ appeal is now arriving and they are almost ready to play their part in the serious revival of their place. Well done all. In fact the only sane and reasoned response to what you’re achieving here with Homebaked is to run out and dance in the street.

Especially while there's so much room!

Especially while there’s so much room!

I walk on.

Down Everton Valley.

Down Everton Valley.

And up along Netherfield Road.

And up along Netherfield Road to Everton.

Where, well over 100 years after Eleanor Rathbone and the community of women founded it, there is still a Victoria Settlement.

Where, well over 100 years after Eleanor Rathbone and the community of women founded it, there is still a Victoria Settlement.

Me, I’ve moved on from being three years old in Diana Street, now I’m nearly five and coming along Netherfield Road to have my tonsils and adenoids out.

At John Bagot Hospital, which was here before these houses.

At John Bagot Hospital, which was here before these houses.

There are though, very, very few houses here now.

Most of the tower blocks are gone now. This was one of a pair, The Braddocks.

Most of the Everton tower blocks are gone now. This was one of a pair, The Braddocks.

And now as I walk I’m 18 again, in my first proper job working in Liverpool City Council’s Housing Department. It’s the early 1970s and this place is crowded with huge tenement blocks like Tommy White Gardens and all the tower blocks that have replaced the demolished terraces  over the last ten years. Some of the week I work down the hill on Scotland Road.

Some of it I work up here in what was Netherfield Heights.

And some of the week I work up here in what was Netherfield Heights.

All gone now and mostly grassed over.

And being called 'Everton Park.'

And being called ‘Everton Park.’

In truth, a hard park to love. Not so much planned as grassed over. The views and the running are wonderful. But when I worked here thousands and thousands of people were living here. And it was lively and I miss them in the eerie silence of the place now.

Like here, roughly where Garibaldi and Mazzini House tower blocks stood. Silent now.

Like here, roughly where Garibaldi and Mazzini House tower blocks stood. Silent now.

I walk down through the park towards Great Homer Street, passing no one.

Half-way down the hill there’s this allotment plot of raised beds though.

Reassuring evidence.

Reassuring evidence.

Everywhere needs someone to love it. And Frank does.

Everywhere needs someone to love it. And Frank does.

I reach Great Homer Street.

I reach Great Homer Street.

Formerly one of the main roads into Liverpool City, but largely bypassed these days.

Still the site of regular markets, but nothing compared to years ago.

Still the site of regular markets, but nothing compared to years ago.

Again, I’m 18 years old and me and someone called Wally from the Netherfield Heights Housing Office have walked down the hill to Great Homer Street to take the day’s rent money to the bank. Wally’s carrying it all in a brief case. And me? A gangly hippy? The Security? Everyone knew who we were and what we were doing, but no one ever bothered us. Halcyon days.

The bank was somewhere in this now empty row.

The bank was somewhere in this now empty row.

The whole area has its breath held waiting for a big development called ‘Project Jennifer’ to get going.

Some day soon, maybe?

Some day soon, maybe, a giant Sainsbury’s will save the day?

I buy a Mars Bar in the only shop that's open and walk on.

I buy a Mars Bar in the only shop that’s open and walk on.

Greatie’s really not doing so great. But just round the back?

Signs of hope and people. Langrove Community Housing Co-op.

Signs of hope and people. Langrove Community Housing Co-op clearly love the place.

Along St Anne Street now towards the city centre.

Richmond Street Dwellings.

Richmond Street Dwellings.

Always strange how bits of the past seem to survive, almost by accident.

Like, wasn't this the Rushworth & Draper Organ Works?

Like, wasn’t this the Rushworth & Draper Organ Works?

Across London Road with evening coming on.

Across London Road with evening coming on.

Past the restored Georgian of Seymour Terrace.

Past the restored Georgian of Seymour Terrace.

To the glory that is The Bullring.

To the glory that is The Bullring.

A great Liverpool tenement survives. Student housing now, with the Catholic Cathedral shining in the background.

A great Liverpool tenement survives. Student housing now, with the Catholic Cathedral shining in the background.

And finally, along Rodney Street, back to catch the end of the Bold Street Festival.Inspecting Liverpool 240

A wonderful day then, seeing how the place is doing. And there really is no substitute for walking around it to get a feel for how things are. Through Granby, Canning and the the city. And Walton, Anfield and Everton, back to the city.

And how are things? Well, there’s no single answer. It’s a city. Differing parts of it are asking various questions. And there may yet be more questions than answers. But I’ll keep up my self-imposed watching, in these and other places. Because this is my place. This is home. And it matters to me.

The sunshine definitely helped, mind.

See also, ‘Inspecting Liverpool, part one.’

2 thoughts on “Inspecting Liverpool, part two

  1. Martin Greaney (@histliverpool)

    Another great read, and balanced! It’s reassuring to have someone with so many memories to be able to draw together the progress of the city, and the different areas. I grew up in West Derby in the 80s and 90s, and it’s changed a lot since then, but it’s always difficult to simplify or generalise the changes. Some good, some bad, and I think the same goes for the rest of the city.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Martin, I think those of us who live here have a right and responsibility to criticise what’s not working or just plain wrong. But there’s no denying that Liverpool is also, largely, a wonderful place as these 2 walks show. As long as we can avoid selling much more of it to faceless corporates. Which is why the situation along Great Homer Street particularly worries me, along with the blighting of Anfield these last few years. So I’ll keep walking around, I’ll keep watching – and thanks for ‘balanced’.

      Reply

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