Don’t get too comfortable!

One of the comforts of living in Liverpool to the age I am is that during my lifetime I’ve seen many of the city’s ugliest buildings get both built and demolished. The past few years have witnessed the destructions of Foster House, Steers House, Paradise Street Bus Station and multi-storey car park and the Holiday Inn next door to them. All gone, none missed.

So I know no building, however permanent it might look, will necessarily be there for very long. Therefore, and because it’s New Year and thoughts of clearing out and renewal are around, I decided I’d raise the prospect of clearing a few more. Show you a few places that, in my opinion, needn’t get too comfortable about coming to the future with us.

For my first recommendation I’m going to have to show you some more things that have already gone.

The ugly row of little shops that stood in front of Lime Street Station for 40 years or so.

The ugly row of little shops that stood in front of Lime Street Station for 40 years or so. Gone and not missed.

And next to them the exquisite ugliness of Concourse House. Also now gone.

And next to them the exquisite ugliness of Concourse House. Also now thankfully gone.

Thus revealing, as intended, the full beauty of the Station Facade?

Well yes, but also this lot of student housing.

Well yes, but also this ugly pile of student housing.

How on earth did these Stalinist slab  blocks ever get planning permission?

Great location to live perhaps, but how on earth did these Stalinist slab blocks ever get planning permission?

How did they get planning permission to be built anywhere in Liverpool, never mind right outside one of the major entry points to the city? Surely these will soon be gone?

And while I’m down here:

Surely not?

Surely not?

I know it’s just wrapping up a car park but, again, is that the most creative way we can welcome new arrivals to our otherwise mostly lovely city. It’s just next to St George’s Hall after all. So trees, planting? Just a thought.

Still in town:

Mount Pleasant multi-storey.

Mount Pleasant multi-storey.

Obviously this is monstrously ugly in its own right.

But even uglier when you see the Roscoe Memorial that's stood in front of it.

But even uglier when you see the Roscoe Memorial that’s stood in front of it.

In case you’re thinking I’ve got a thing against multi-storey car parks, well I have. I’d prefer to see better, cheaper, free even, public transport for getting us all in and out of the city centre. I remember when the Thatcher Government were winding up the County Councils the buses in Liverpool (which the County Council ran then) were free or very cheap for the final couple of weekends. The buses were full and the shops had record takings, simple.

Let’s go down to the river.

The now empty VAT building. It's got to go.

The now empty VAT building. It’s got to go.

And stop squatting on our Graving Dock!

And stop squatting on our Graving Dock!

I think what we build on our waterfront really matters and have always been appalled that some of the precious space was taken up by this, and that I have to look at the thing every time I walk down Parliament Street. I’d rather look at the river.

Staying with the waterfront:

Here's how it looked just a few years ago.

Here’s how it looked just a few years ago.

So lovely that we even used that image on our letterheads (remember them?)

Then the cranes came.

Then the cranes came.

And these are what we got.

And these are what we got.

Now I’m not at all opposed to new buildings. Everything you can just about see here was new within not much more than the last hundred years. But I think all new buildings need an architect, and it’s hard to spot the architectural input on some of these places I’m showing you.

But this really doesn't have a look of permanence about it, does it?

Like, this really doesn’t have a look of permanence about it, does it?

(A comment on Twitter calls these Darth Vader’s Holiday Homes!)

Again, stepping back a few years:

Here's how we were landscaping the area in front of our Three Graces. Harshly.

Here’s how we were landscaping the area in front of our Three Graces. Harshly.

And here's how we're doing it now. Harsh with a canal in the middle.

And here’s how we’re doing it now. Harsh with a canal in the middle.

Now I love a good canal, but this one’s being completely wasted. Is this because we’re in love with low maintenance? Or could we just not be bothered? Looked at from this angle you would never guess that this is one of the most famous waterfronts on Earth.

And the Museum of Liverpool building? No, that’s settling in now and we all love what’s inside it – the story of us lot. Though it is built the wrong way round. The café should be on the front, ‘The Waterfront’ is, after all, what the café’s called.

Just back from the river, the now empty Royal Insurance building.

Just back from the river, the now empty Royal Insurance building. A carbuncle.

Along Park Road? Well at no point could I stand far enough away from this monstrosity to get it all in shot.

The Park Road Tesco.

The Park Road Tesco.

It dominates the whole area it’s in. You can even see the roof of it from down on Smithdown by us, a couple of miles away from it.

And the whole ground floor is, you've guessed it, a car park. Gross.

And the whole ground floor is, you’ve guessed it, a car park. Gross.

And, as an aside, here I am taking these photographs on New Year’s Day, and the thing’s open. Got to look after those greedy shareholders after all.

Still, let’s end on an up note.

Yes, the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

Yes, the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

A place full of dedicated carers and miracle workers.

But as ugly as anything else I've shown you in this post.

But as ugly as anything else I’ve shown you in this post.

Well, unlike all the other places, we know for sure this one is going. It’s replacement already begun. But by the time that opens in 2017 maybe some of these other horrors will be joining the old Royal in the scrap heap of our memories?

Happy New Year!

Above images of Concourse House from Commons Wikimedia. The rest all photographed by me. Yes, that’s the kind of thing I go round doing.

4 thoughts on “Don’t get too comfortable!

  1. Helen Devries

    I’ve never visited Liverpool and my only impression of it has been of the two cathedrals, but looking back over your recent posts is bringing it to life for me.

    San Jose was a lovely city in the twenties and thirties…and then the mania for tearing down and building eyesores took over. Only recently have there been efforts to restore what is left….but the current city council is encouraging the construction of tower blocks of private flats in the nicer areas of the inner ring – to bring in right wing voters to keep the council in the hands of the same party.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Helen, my opinion is that Liverpool is a quietly gorgeous place. Extremely though immorally rich through slavery and the Industrial Revolution. But the landscape and the relatively gentle Gulf Steam temperature, together with the welcoming humour of the mixed from everywhere people gradually made it lovely. But like you with San Jose there has recently been a tendency to privatise some of our inner core, though for shopping rather than vote rigging purposes.

      Reply
  2. lindsay53

    Some of these buildings are positively scary looking. Reminds me a bit of the broody atmosphere of the buildings in films like ‘Brazil’. Not at all welcoming…but then maybe that’s the point. They only want the privileged few to walk through their doors. Some of them look more like buildings whose doors you would be frogmarched through rather than invited into. How shameful that they have blocked that lovely skyline!

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Well, blocked it for now. I’ve had a lot of comments on this one on Twitter and the consensus seems to be that ‘Breezeblock Towers’ by Lime Street and ‘Darth Vader’s Holiday Homes’ at the Pier Head have no place in our future. Therefore we’re all looking forward to the removal vans turning up, closely followed by the wrecking balls!

      Reply

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