A Friday Walk through the various places where people live. Eventually getting to town to see some friends and their new venture ‘Home’ in School Lane, Liverpool One.
It’s been called Prince Arthur’s Road for the last century or more, since the visit of some royal. But as a keen fan of evidence of urban farming I always use its original name.
Yes, looks like a pub and always was a pub. But now, sadly, it’s a solicitor’s office.
The plaque on it says:
“Built in 1796 to house drunks and criminals overnight, it later accommodated cholera victims and refugees from the Irish Famine.”
Though as you’ll know if you’ve been around here a while I won’t have it called a famine. Only the potato crop failed. The English ate or exported everything else. What they didn’t do, though, was enclose the little green the Lock-Up is standing on. That is the only remaining piece of common land in Liverpool, and therefore very precious.
Medieval this, apparently and there really is a spring under it. The cross is a relatively recent addition though but its inscription is a gem:
”Deus dedit homo bibit’ meaning ‘God gives, man drinks”
I love walking through Old Swan. Lively and full of people, and with a complicated crossroads that’s a real relic of when the place was a village with coaching inns, a few miles from Liverpool town.
Though, architecturally speaking, the junction still misses the tenements and shops of St Oswald’s Gardens.
There are 80,000 of these terraced houses in Liverpool, we live in one.
Not sure how much ‘abattoiring’ goes on in there now, or whether it’s just a wholesale market? But they are moving with the times. An advert on the front boasts of the availability of ‘slimming sausages’.
Oh look, it’s a regeneration sign!
For a couple of miles now we’ll be walking through the ‘Kensington New Deal’ area. A regeneration initiative from the early days of New Labour. So it’ll be interesting to see how it’s worked.
And find a rich selection of mostly Eastern European and Middle Eastern foods.
I buy a couple of Turkish olive-bread rolls and walk on.
I remember this being a (hate the phrase) ‘Flagship Project’ at the beginning of the New Deal. Now it’s got bushes growing out of the roof. What went wrong?
And the Dean Road Jewish Cemetery has been beautifully restored.
Legendary if you’re a Deaf School fan anyway. As they memorably sang:
“Everybody looks like me
Down at Capaldi’s Caff.”
It’s still managing to be open four days a week, though you fear for its future with the UK government’s vicious ‘austerity’ policies.
So this is hardly a scientific study of ‘How the New Deal for Kensington’ worked out (you can read that here). I’ve only walked along the one road. But it is the main drag and it’s not looking all that regenerated is it?
Next, those of you not from Liverpool, try and guess what this is.
Every day, the people who work in here perform miracles. All of us know someone whose life has been saved at the Royal. But they seriously need a better place for their miracles than this slab of brutalism.
Though none of us lot, the experienced patients of Liverpool, were asked about it. So who knows if it will be better than what it’s replacing?
In fact when I was young this was part of the city centre. Now it’s more an area for budget shops.
‘Bulky Bob’s’ is a part of the Furniture Resource Centre Group who we did a lot of work with in the early days of ‘a sense of place’. They collect all the bulky household unwanted goods in Liverpool, then recycle all they can, cleaned up and refreshed, here in this shop.
Just along the road is a Liverpool legend, TJ’s.
We’d come here to their Christmas Grottos in the late 50s and early 60s. I remember Pinky and Perky, Sparky and his magic piano, The Dancing Waters. Always the best in Liverpool.
Passing a housing office, I’m taken by surprise.
But it says:
For the long run.”
And I wrote these words about seven years ago, along with tenants involved in the transfer of the remaining City Council homes to a new landlord, who wanted to make sure public housing would stay public forever. This is the office of that landlord, Liverpool Mutual Homes, and I’m so pleased to see the words still there.
I walk on and finally find where the people are.
But I’m not here for Christmas shopping myself of course. I’m here to call in on a couple of friends and their new venture.
This is Polly and Ben’s third ‘Home’ – the others being in Oxton and Woodside Ferry terminal. They’re local themselves, of course, and are dedicated to using local suppliers.
For today I’m just delighted to see them here. It’s wonderful to be able to walk around inside two people’s dream. Regular readers will well know that I find most of what Liverpool One offers to be far too much about big, corporate, could be anywhere chains. Well this is different. These are two of our own. And if Liverpool One’s to have a future in our hearts, then we need a good few more of our Pollys and Bens to be in there, making it work, you know – ‘For Liverpool, for everyone, for the long run?’
I’ve known Polly and Ben for years, in fact if you’ve read our posts about ‘The story of a sense of place’ (and if not..?) you’ve met Polly before:
“One lunch-time I run into a woman who’s just been on one of our ‘One Day’ workshops, and she asks me where I’m going. ‘Back to work’ I say, ‘I’m just on my lunch-hour’. She looks a mixture of mystified and disappointed. ‘I’m surprised’ she says. ‘You were encouraging us all to go with our hearts the other week, and do what we want with our lives. And yet here you are on your way back into work. Is this what you really want to be doing?’ I tell Sarah about this and it really touches a nerve in both of us. We start to realise that before we can really fly, we’re going to have to jump.”
Well, that was Polly. Thank you Polly for the inspiration, and lovely to meet you here, at the end of this particular road home. Go well, both of you.