Liverpool 8: From the air

Much of today’s post will take place high up in the air and back in time.

We're going down the side of O'Connor's and up to the top of the Cathedral. It's 1973

We’re going down the side of O’Connor’s and up to the top of the Cathedral. We’re imagining it’s 1973. I’ll explain why in a bit.

Passing the great bells of the Cathedral as we climb the tower.

Passing the great bells of the Cathedral as we climb the tower.

The highest peal of ringing bells on all of the Earth, a sign up here tells me.

But the Cathedral is not our subject today, it’s merely a vantage point.

Neither is our subject the magnificent views of the 21st century city Centre.

Merely to observe in passing how ridiculously close we allowed suburban cup-de-sac housing to get to the middle of our city.

Merely to observe in passing how ridiculously close we allowed suburban cul-de-sac housing to get to the middle of our city in the late 20th century.

No today’s subject, today’s Friday Walk, is Liverpool 8. A place close to my heart and all over this blog. But today’s way of looking at it and walking around it has been suggested by my lifelong school friend Paul Du Noyer in his book about Deaf School.

In 1973 the people who will become Deaf School are all arriving at Liverpool Art College, at precisely the same time as I turn up at nearby Liverpool University. And crucial to the education we’ll all go on to receive over the following 3 years is Liverpool 8, the place and its people. We’ll all meet significant numbers of black people, for the first time in our lives. And we’ll meet the bohemians. The artists, poets, musicians and free spirits who live here as well. And who we all want to grow up and become.

We begin in the streets around Hope Street, one of the principal streets of our 'Liverpool 8'

We begin in the streets around Hope Street, one of the principal streets of our ‘Liverpool 8’

And yes, I fully realise that much of the Hope Street area isn’t technically in the postal district of Liverpool 8 at all. But we’re not talking about postal districts here, we’re talking about a place that’s much more real than that.

So we begin at O'Connor's, one of several crucial 60s and 70s pubs around Liverpool 8.

So we begin at O’Connor’s, one of several crucial 60s and 70s pubs around Liverpool 8.

Here it is in the background of the Liverpool Scene's first LP.

Here it is in the background of the Liverpool Scene’s first LP.

The band of Liverpool painter and poet Adrian Henri.

And where did we get our LPs? Well, for us ‘Liverpool 8’ began as soon as we walked up the hill from town.

And so included Probe Records, here in its original location just off Mount Street.

And so included Probe Records, here in its original location just off Mount Pleasant.

In the book, Paul makes the point that though Liverpool is particularly remembered for its music from the 50s and 60s, that memory has obscured the fact that at the same time the place was bursting with art, poetry, theatre and life. So much so that when the Beatles split in 1970 it didn’t matter all that much to those of us who were here at the time. We got to Liverpool 8 as soon as we could and threw ourselves into everything that was going on here. As had John Paul and George a generation before us.

In Rice Street, the art school pub.

In Rice Street, the art school pub.

The Cracke.

The Crack.

No, I’m not calling it ‘Ye’ anything.

Tempted by the promises on notices outside I go in for my lunch.

But lovely though it is, it doesn't actually do food.

But lovely though it is, it doesn’t actually do food.

It does celebrate the anarchist's who loved it in here, though.

It does celebrate the anarchist’s who loved it in here, though.

Round the corner, on Hope Street. This was the Art College where Beatles John and Stuart came.

Round the corner, on Hope Street. This was the Art College where Beatles John and Stuart came.

And next door, round on Mount Street, the Liverpool Institute. The grammar school where Paul and George went.

And next door, round on Mount Street, the Liverpool Institute. The grammar school where Paul and George went.

Opposite on Mount Street, Adrian Henri lived in one of these houses.

Opposite on Mount Street, Adrian Henri lived in one of these houses.

'Hope Street's Day of the Dead' by Adrian Henri.

‘Hope Street’s Day of the Dead’ by Adrian Henri.

So this is the neighbourhood where Deaf School and the rest of us arrived. Where poets were the people sitting at the next table to you in the pub, and writing your own stuff and putting together your own plays and adventures was just a matter of time.

There would be occasional 'posh' recitals and concerts in the Philharmonic Hall. I'd see all 3 'Mersey Poets' in here

There would be occasional ‘posh’ recitals and concerts in the Philharmonic Hall. I’d see many ‘Liverpool poets’ in here.

In here too.

In here too.

The Philharmonic pub.

The Philharmonic pub.

Having been denied lunch at The Crack I go to Hope Hall. Epicentre of the Liverpool 8 poetry scene.

And which by 1973 has become the Everyman Theatre.

And which by 1973 has become the Everyman Theatre, just opposite the Catholic cathedral here.

And noe rebuilt and reopened.

And now rebuilt and reopened.

By 1973 the Everyman Bistro is open in the basement, beginning 40 years of nurturing friendship and creativity in Liverpool. But the pubs mattered too.

On Catharine Street, The Caledonia.

On Catharine Street, The Caledonia.

And just off Falkner Street. The Belvedere.

And just off Falkner Street. The Belvedere.

Some of Deaf School in the pub. Eric Shark, Bette Bright, Enrico Cadillac Jnr and Rev Max Ripple.

Some of Deaf School in the pub. Eric Shark, Bette Bright, Enrico Cadillac Jnr and Rev Max Ripple.

Note the Rev’s up to the minute cassette recorder there. I used one like that for recording my first songs.

(And by the way, Deaf School member Steve ‘Mr Average’ Lindsey’s been in touch to tell me the above picture was taken in CBGB’s New York in 1977. I should have realised no Liverpool pub, then or now, would be advertising things ‘to go’!)

In 1973 Falkner Street is mostly in the hands of slum landlords and you'll very rarely see a car on the street.

In 1973 Falkner Street is mostly in the hands of slum landlords and you’ll very rarely see a car on the street.

My girlfriend Pat has the flat here, on the ground floor of no.36. Formerly owned by Brian Epstein and loaned to John and Cynthia when they got married.

My girlfriend Pat has the flat here, on the ground floor of no.36. Formerly owned by Brian Epstein and loaned to John and Cynthia when they got married.

In 1973 Blackburne House is still a girls grammar school. But we never dream all the empty shops will turn into a flourishing pavement café scene one day.

In 1973 Blackburne House is still a girls grammar school. But we never dream all the empty shops will turn into a flourishing pavement café scene one day.

Opposite the end of Falkner Street, in 1973, the Hahnemann Hospital is still open.

Homeopathic, so not really a hospital at all.

Homeopathic, so not really a hospital at all.

Looking down on the corner of Gambier Terrace, Hope Street and Canning Street.

Looking down on the corner of Gambier Terrace, Hope Street and Canning Street.

The only real scouter in Deaf School...

The only real scouser in Deaf School…

Enrico Cadillac lived above the shop here.

Enrico Cadillac lived above the shop here.

And no, these are not their real names. But the ones they made up are good aren’t they?

Along Canning Street.

Along Canning Street.

Again, in 1973, most of these were split up into bedsits in the hands of slum landlords. It was a tough area and crumbling away, but you could easily get a flat here.

Again, in 1973, most of these were split up into bedsits in the hands of slum landlords. It was a tough area and crumbling away, but you could easily get a flat here.

And many friends I would come to know over the next few years did. Making me aware of something special that was going on around here. Something called ‘housing associations’ were gradually trying to buy up houses, keep them out of the hands of slum landlords, and start doing them up to a decent standard for people to live in decently. Much more on this as I discover Liverpool Housing Trust.

Now it's peaceful and beautiful.

And now it’s peaceful and beautiful.

Though even by 1973 some of the Georgian housing had gone.

Though even by 1973 some of the Georgian housing had gone.

And facing the end of Bedford Street South, my bit of the University was no architectural marvel either.

And facing the end of Bedford Street South, my ‘Eleanor Rathbone’ bit of the University was no architectural marvel either.

In 1973 the last bits of 'Upper Canning' were being demolished. They flowed on to where the Liverpool Women's Hospital is now.

In 1973 the last bits of ‘Upper Canning’ were being demolished. They flowed on to where the Liverpool Women’s Hospital is now.

I had friend lived in here, on the Huskisson Street corner of Gambier Terrace. A fantastic flat, huge rooms, but so cold you wore your coat indoors in the winter.

I had friends lived in here, on the Huskisson Street corner of Gambier Terrace. A fantastic flat, huge rooms, but so cold you wore your coat indoors in the winter.

Looking along Huskisson Street, past St Brides.

Looking along Huskisson Street, past St Brides. And over towards Princes and Granby, where we’ll be going soon.

After we've walked along Egerton Street.

After we’ve walked along Egerton Street.

To call in at The Grapes.

To call in at The Grapes there.

Nowadays known as Peter Kavanagh's.

Nowadays known as Peter Kavanagh’s.

Just round in Upper Parliament Street was somewhere very important to us all back in the 1970s.

The Somali Club was in a basement along here.

The Somali Club was in a basement along here.

Licensing laws were still very restrictive back then and no decent poet wants to stop drinking at 11o’clock on a Friday night. So we’d come to The Somali, as would Deaf School. Crowded, smoky, all the music from a juke box and open ’til 2, some nights it seemed the whole of Liverpool 8 was jammed into there.

Across Upper Parly, what's now left of Upper Stanhope Street.

Across Upper Parly, what’s now left of Upper Stanhope Street.

Seen here on the cover of the Real Thing's '4 from 8.'

Seen here on the cover of the Real Thing’s ‘4 from 8.’

The Real Thing had grown out of The Chants, Beatles friends and contemporaries from Liverpool 8.

The suburban housing now on Upper Stanhope Street.

The suburban housing now off Upper Stanhope Street.

And the lovely Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas.

And the lovely Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas.

Along Princes towards Granby.

Along Princes towards Granby.

Looking back at where we're watching from.

Looking back at where we’re watching from.

Into Roseberry Street. One of the long original streets of Granby.

Into Roseberry Street. One of the long original streets of Granby.

Where our John and the Quarrymen played from the back of a lorry in 1957.

Where our John and the Quarrymen played from the back of a lorry in 1957.

Today it looks like this.

Today it looks like this.

And being a Friday, the road is filled with the parked cars of the faithful.

And a very different music from the Quarrymen sings out over the street from the Mosque on the corner.

And a very different music from the Quarrymen sings out over the street from the Mosque on the corner.

Arundel Street was still there in 1973 too. Now it's more suburban housing.

Arundel Street was still there in 1973 too. Now it’s more suburban housing.

As is much of Granby Street itself now.

As is much of Granby Street itself now.

Hardly recognisable from the late 60s/early 70s.

Hardly recognisable from the late 60s/early 70s.

Even a surviving shop on the corner of Cairns Street has recently 'collapsed'

Even a surviving shop on the corner of Cairns Street has recently ‘collapsed’

But we still have four of the original streets.

Beaconsfield Street.

Beaconsfield Street.

One side now refurbished by Plus Dane. These are new build really, with preserved facades.

One side now refurbished by housing association Plus Dane. These are new build really, with preserved facades.

Springtime on Cairns Street.

Springtime on Cairns Street.

Another spring without gas at 144.

Another spring without gas at 144.

Jermyn Street.

Jermyn Street.

And the surviving side of Ducie Street.

And the surviving side of Ducie Street.

Where despite the lack of many roves there is hope.

Where despite the lack of many rooves there is hope.

News of which I hope to be able to bring you soon.

Meanwhile over on the Welsh Streets?

Now Powys Street here is being used as a film set for the second time.

Now Powys Street here is being used as a film set for the second time.

After another 2 years of stalled activity, a second series of 'Peaky Blinders.'

After another 2 years of stalled activity, a second series of ‘Peaky Blinders’ where Powys Street pretends to be ‘Watery Lane’

The stillness of the streets.

The stillness of the streets.

Which is where our walk through the Liverpool 8 of 1973 and Deaf School and me ends.

What no Dingle?

What no Dingle?

No, though it’s part of Liverpool 8 by postcode it’s always been a distinct place called ‘The Dingle’ as opposed to ‘Liverpool 8’ where I’ve wandered today and these many years since I first arrived.

Now it's back home through Princes Park, the Liverpool 8 walk done.

Now it’s back home through Princes Park, then the Lodge Lane/Sefton Park L8 borderlands.

And later on in Liverpool 8 there were righteous riots, caused by the policies of the police. After which, out of sheer revenge, much of Granby was destroyed, accompanied by a diaspora of its peoples.

But Liverpool 8, the true spirit of the place survives. Seen here at its purest form in the Granby 4 Streets Market – ‘By the people, of the people, for the people’ – where Liverpool 8 regathers and the names of the disappeared streets are once again spoken.

And Deaf School? After briefly being ‘the next big thing’ and then not, quite – they too regather at times. And we sing all of their songs with them like every one was a hit to us. Oh frabjous days. ‘Cocktails at eight?’ L8? I’ll meet you there.

Deaf School: The non-stop pop art punk rock party’ by Paul Du Noyer is the inspiration for doing this walk via the top of the Cathedral. Thanks Paul.

And looking in the opposite direction, at the city centre and the river, here.

 

12 thoughts on “Liverpool 8: From the air

    1. R D Owen

      You are right about The Dingle being separate from Liverpool 8. At the age of 87 I remember such facts, which younger folk forget or never knew.

      Reply
      1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

        Thank you and welcome to here.

        There are so many boundaries and places in a city. Many not shown on any maps but held in the heads of us who live there.

      2. Des

        Such a wonderful area – as rich and varied as life itself!
        (But Ducie Street is now gone – or almost gone! It was the subject of a significant UK housing case law initiative (known as the “Granby Decision”) whereby for the first time in the UK compulsory powers were used to transfer badly managed properties (in this case squalid multi-lets) to responsible ownership (I.e., housing associations). Housing associations? Responsible ownership?

    1. stan cotter

      hi ron can you tell me which street the “crack” is in please. i saw it many years ago during the ambulance dispute but cant remember the street ..

      Reply
      1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

        Hi Stan, all well here. It’s in Rice Street Stan. Well worth a visit. I was in there the other night. A warm and friendly place.

  1. Saul Marks

    Hi Ronnie, love your work.

    – The fancy dress shop you refer to as O’Connor’s, on the corner of Hardman St & Pilgrim St, served initially as a synagogue for Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation, from 1842-57. They had split from the original Liverpool Hebrew Congregation in 1838 & worshipped in rooms on Hanover St for four years. In 1857, they moved to Hope Place Synagogue (now Unity Theatre), where they stayed until 1937, when they merged with a much smaller congregation to create Greenbank Drive Hebrew Congregation. They closed in Jan 2008. A photo of the O’Connor’s building appears in Philip Ettinger’s 1933 book “Hope Place in Liverpool Jewry”.

    – The plaque dedicatd to “The Dissenters” is the unmistakable work of Fred O’Brien, with whom I’ve had dealings in relation to Deane Road Cemetery.

    – I’ve seen an engraving of the Liverpool Institute building done around the time it opened. I don’t think I have a copy, but I know a man who does!

    – The Philharmonic pub was designed by Walter William Thomas (1849-1912), whose career I’ve researched in detail because he designed the prayer hall at Broad Green Jewish Cemetery. His main Liverpool works were large buildings, including Toxteth Pk Workhouse (additions only, c.1881 & 1884), Hyam’s Dept Store (58-60 Lime St, c.1882), The Phil (1898-1900), The Coffee House (originally a “Temperance pub”, Church Rd North, Wavertree, remodelling only, 1904), prayer hall, Broad Green Jewish Cemetery (Thomas Dr, 1904), The Vines (Lime St, 1907), the TJ Hughes building (London Rd, c.1910), possibly some houses around Sefton Pk, The Brookhouse (Smithdown Rd, additions only).

    – I love The Quarter! Great food & service. I take various guests there.

    – Huge fan of the Canning district. I note the stone-faced houses on the north side of Percy St, possibly designed by Samuel Rowland (1789-1844), architect of the screen wall at Deane Road Cemetery & another subject of my research.

    – St Bride’s Church (1830) was Rowland’s most famous work. He also designed the Northern Dispensary building (Vauxhall Rd, c.1826), Scotch Secessionist Church (Mt Pleasant, 1827), St James’s church (Latchford, Warrington, 1829), parts of Percy St housing (unconfirmed, early 1830s), Bootle National School (1835), Deane Road Jewish Cemetery entrance (1837), Queen Insurance building (Dale St, 1839).

    – And finally, Princes Rd Synagogue, on the board of which I served 2006-14 & your blog entry about which I’m about to read! One of only 3 Grade I listed synagogues in the country.

    I’m a big fan of your work & would be delighted to meet up & chat at your convenience. Please keep blogging!

    Saul Marks.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks for all this Saul. I knew the Unity was a synagogue but had no idea O’Connor’s was too. That was where I learned how to drink beer with some considerable skill!

      I will definitely keep blogging, our place is so full of the stories of the things we’ve all dreamed of and then done. Good to hear from you.

      Reply

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