And I was sat at the Pier Head on Christmas Day when I sent Sarah this picture from my phone.
With hardly any people around the bleak expanse of the hard landscaping here looks particularly brutal.
Then in my New Year’s Day post I cited this landscaping as one of Liverpool’s worst bits of architecture.
Then yesterday the high tides and storms that have been happening with increasing frequency hit the whole of west coast Britain.
And changing my mind about the landscaping of the Pier Head. Sure, it’s harsh and ugly if you view it as an extension of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Think about it. From Seaforth to Herculaneum the city is effectively protected from the high tides and storms of global warming by its huge docks system. It wasn’t built for that, but that’s effectively what it’s doing now. Except for right here at the centre of the city, until very recently.
Early in the 20th century the George’s Dock here was filled in for the building of our Three Graces. Cutting the link between the North and South Docks and, accidentally, making the centre of the city vulnerable to flooding.
So, a few years ago, when the City announced that a new ‘extension’ of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal would be constructed at the foot of the Three Graces, most of us thought ‘That’s nice’ and looked forwards to seeing barges sailing across our Waterfront. In the autumn I duly took these idyllic pictures of a couple of people sailing their barge along the canal ‘extension’ on a gorgeously sunny, still, day.
Nice pictures, if I do say so. But that’s not a canal ‘extension’ is it? That’s the Princes Dock.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal originally terminated at Leeds Street.
So the new ‘extension’ is nothing to do with the original canal. But it does join the North and South Docks back together. Here’s how.
But forget idyllic vistas of barges on the Waterfront. As it gets close to the Liver Buildings the ‘canal’ enters something that looks increasingly like a drain. And that’s what I think it is.
For draining floodwaters away from the historic buildings, museums and shops of the city centre. Draining it away into the vast basins of the North and South Docks, once again linked up by this ingenious bit of drainage.
I don’t think so though. So well done Liverpool City Council for this far-sighted piece of global warming planning. And I now understand why the hard landscaping at the Pier Head looks like a piece of industrial drainage, because that’s what it is, isn’t it?
Thanks to fellow Liverpool historian @Liverpool1207 for the storm photos, published yesterday on Twitter.