Continuing to explore Greater Liverpool – on the bus.
I was nearly a Twirly this morning.
Just in time I remember that I can’t use my bus pass before 9:30. Thus avoiding the indignity of waving it at the driver pleading ‘Am I too early?’ Or as we all interpret that here in Liverpool, ‘Am a Twirly!’
Imagine being so important to the bank and insurance businesses that a branch of that would be situated here.
This is by Peter Ellis, most celebrated for Oriel Chambers and considered by the likes of Quentin Hughes and Nikolaus Pevsner to be one of the finest, though least celebrated architects of the early to mid-nineteenth century. (Peter Ellis also designed and lived in 78 Canning Street and 40 Falkner Square in Liverpool 8, the first two buildings I worked in for Liverpool Housing Trust.)
Though by the time I get on it’s changed its number to the 471.
I could have got on here but, of course, wanted to make sure I got the front seat upstairs. Because somewhere very special’s coming up.
We’re in the middle lane too. Buses can’t use the side lanes, obviously!
Nearly as miraculous as my guide for how to get here by car for Liverpool people a while back.
Another time I’ll get off and have a look around. But today I want to get to our destination before the promised deluge sweeps in.
Again, needs to be seen one day.
I notice the passing funeral cars here. We’re close to Landican Crematorium, where Sarah will have just finished her service.
I remember coming to Arrowe Park as a child and finding a huge parkland. Then coming back in more recent years bemused to find, though still large, so much of it given over to a golf course and a hospital.
We’re very close to the Shining Shore here. But that’s for a nicer day. As you can probably see, it’s raining now.
I don’t get off.
A place I’ve never spent much time in, which is why I’ve come for a look around.
Which you’ll notice has ‘Electric hybrid power’ and wi-fi. And there have I been, sitting at the front taking photos like it’s an ordinary bus.
So, Heswall, what have you got?
As independent as you like. Been here 110 years selling a splendid mixture of musical instruments, stationery, cards, arts and crafts materials, toys and maps. How about that?
Next, it’s Linghams.
As well as being a great bookshop, they’ve also got a café at the back called ‘Toast’. So I go and have some, together with a cup of tea. While the grandparents around me read timeless classics to their enthralled charges. A place where, I’d guess, The Tiger is always coming for tea and the Wild Things are always running amok. Heart-twistingly charming.
Leaving for a general look around I find what everyone must always find in Heswall. That’s a seriously major road running through the middle there, that you don’t easily criss-cross as the fancy takes you.
I also find Heswall got a bit of a seeing to in the 1960s.
I loathe that phrase. It’s also been slapped onto several Liverpool libraries too. Books being replaced by ‘Council Services’.
And whilst there were a number of people browsing its shelves, there was no one in the bit they’ve cleared out for the ‘One Stop Shop’. Good.
Feeling in need of some air and inspiration I head out of the town Centre.
Now it’s all a hundred years ago there’s been talk, these past few weeks that all these people died for nothing. That what we now call the First World War was a gross mistake we needn’t have had any part in. Intellectually maybe so, maybe that could eventually be said about most wars. But today, like always, I stand here with tears in my eyes, simply grateful for what they did with what they knew, terribly sorry they died doing it. Thank you Smith, F. Smith, G. Smith, J. Smith, J… All of you.
But at this point, the rain that’s been falling heavily and steadily all the time I’ve been in Heswall, turns into bitterly cold sideways hailstones. Enough. The Estuary can wait.
They’re always arriving. One or other of the 471 or 472 every 10 minutes for most of most days (timetables and maps here). A fantastic service.
(And I realise I’m biased because all of this travel today is costing me nothing other than a life’s work and taxes. But what if we could make public transport of this quality cheaper and more accessible for everyone? Do you think we might start to end the car devotion, the one person per vehicle, that’s a permanent feature of this road, like so many others?)
And next Great Bus Journey? Who knows. I’ve hardly started yet!
See all of the ‘Great bus journeys of the world’ here.