Eldon Grove: Good news

Eldon Grove, Liverpool 3

Eldon Grove, Liverpool 3

June 2015 update: Eldon Grove restoration now at Cabinet after full Council discussions in April. Liverpool Mutual Homes ‘may start work during the summer’ according to the Liverpool Echo.

“Documents prepared for the cabinet say Eldon Grove, which is currently classed as a “Building at Risk”, will be able to be brought back into use with developers confident refurbishment could start during the summer.

A report which went before the council in April said the development costs are estimated to be in the region of £6.6 million, of which the council is being asked to contribute £1.25 million which in turn would “would unlock other streams of funding, thereby securing delivery of the project and remove Eldon Grove from the Buildings at Risk Register”.

Eldon Grove is to be saved. The lease on it is in the process of being transferred to Liverpool Mutual Homes, who will restore it.

The news came to me through the unlikely avenue of a picture of Bill Shankly:

Bill Shankly at Eldon Grove, 1960s.

Bill Shankly at Eldon Grove, 1960s.

I’d seen the picture before but always enjoy seeing the great man in one of my favourite places.

Anyway, it’s a rainy Saturday ‘wet play’ sort of morning and I’m idly checking through Twitter, when the Bill photo almost distracts me from what else is being said. Here’s the full exchange once I get involved:TwitterSo, brilliant news. And for the moment that’s all I know.

‘LMH’ are Liverpool Mutual Homes, the stock transfer housing association who received what was left of Liverpool’s Council Housing stock in 2007. So it’s fitting really that Eldon Grove too should pass to them for its safe-keeping.

If you’ve been around this blog a while you will, of course, have heard about Eldon Grove before. I lamented about its state and future during my North Docks walk last November. And then just the other week Sarah and I came to check on it during our 27 bus adventure.

My affection for this lovely place began when I worked around Scotland Road for Liverpool City housing department in the early 1970s. Something I was reminiscing about on here just the other day. In truth, though the building was still lived in at that time it’s slow decline had already begun. And years of poor maintenance and failed regeneration plans would eventually reduce it to the ‘Dangerous Site’ it’s known as today.

But it began, in 1912, in utter splendour.

Planned at a time when it was thought only the best would do for the working classes.

Planned at a time when it was thought only the best would do for the working classes.

Places to live, places to sit, stroll, read and play.

Places to live, places to sit, stroll, read and play.

For Liverpool, for the future, for all of us.

For Liverpool, for the future, for all of us.

Council housing had been invented in Liverpool in the 19th century. And by the early decades of the 20th century the City was building beautiful housing like Eldon Grove and its neighbouring Bevington Street and Summerseat houses. And if you’re interested you can read the history of all of this at this beautiful post by fellow blogger Municipal Dreams.

But by now, having got the good news about Eldon Grove I just have to go and have a look at it, rain or no rain.

Arriving it looks like there's just a big buddleia hedge down one side of the road.

Arriving it looks like there’s just a big buddleia hedge down one side of the road.

Here in Bevington Street.

Here in Bevington Street.

But over the plants and the fence you can see the rooftops.

But over the plants and the fence you can see the rooftops.

Then there's a crack in the fence and it's here.

Then there’s a crack in the fence and it’s here.

Eldon Grove, Bevington Street, Liverpool 3.

Eldon Grove, Bevington Street, Liverpool 3.

The most beautiful example of municipal housing ever built?

The most beautiful example of municipal housing ever built?

Now a 'Dangerous Site'

Now a ‘Dangerous Building’

Let's walk around it and see what we can.

Let’s walk around it and see what we can.

Pausing frequently to wipe the rain off the lens.

Some of the delicate ironwork from 1912 is still here.

Some of the delicate ironwork from 1912 is still here.

Though clearly the rooves are in serious trouble.

Though clearly the rooves are in serious trouble.

But the structure looks saveable.

But the structure looks saveable.

Though the site's obviously a mess.

Though the site’s obviously a mess.

But look at this. 1912 ironwork in a secret garden.

But look at this. 1912 ironwork in a secret garden.

At this point I realise that I’m looking at the building in a completely different way from even a few weeks ago. Now I know it will be saved I’m treasuring the details, looking at it practically, working out what will need to be done. Not photographing a campaign now, I realise I might be taking the first photographs of Eldon Grove’s rebirth.

Round the back.

Round the back.

Summer softening the edges of decay.

Summer softening the edges of decay.

But soon this will change.

But soon this will change.

Soon Eldon Grove will be dangerous no more.

Soon Eldon Grove will be dangerous no more.

There will be glass in the windows.

There will be glass in the windows.

People on the balconies.

People on the balconies.

Children will be born here.

Children will be born here.

Lives will be lived.

Lives will be lived.

People will come to visit.

People will come to visit.

And say 'Aren't you lucky to live in such a beautiful place!'

And say ‘Aren’t you lucky to live in such a beautiful place!’

In Eldon Grove.

In Eldon Grove.

But now there is work to be done.

But now there is work to be done.

To get to the future.

To get to the future.

The future of this glorious place.

The future of this glorious place.

To fill these rooms.

To fill these rooms.

With love and laughter.

With love and laughter.

And, I hope, keep some of this lovely ironwork.

And, I hope, keep some of this lovely ironwork.

Well done Eldon Grove. Well done for standing up.

Well done Eldon Grove. Well done for standing up.

Someday soon the neighbours in Bevington Street and Summerseat will have new neighbours.

Someday soon the neighbours in Bevington Street and Summerseat will have new neighbours.

And well done to Liverpool City and thanks to Councillor Malcolm Kennedy for passing on the good news.

And LMH, Liverpool Mutual Homes? Well. you’ve got a job to do but it’s the job you exist for. In 2006 me and Sarah worked with your Board, made up largely of City Council tenants, when you were getting ready for the transfer ballot. And together we all made up this short sentence defining what you would be for. And I know it’s still displayed in your offices:

“For Liverpool, for the future, for everyone.”

Your future has now arrived and we place Eldon Grove in your hands. Take great care of it.

Update: As of December 2014 little movement has taken place on the redevelopment of Eldon Grove into 45 new homes. But Liverpool Council announce they are confident it will be underway by Summer 2015.

20 thoughts on “Eldon Grove: Good news

  1. stan cotter

    As a teenager I worked in Hutchinson’s flour mills as a trucker (labouring) in Burlington Street. Me a south end lad working among all the Scotty Road guys, a great gang of fellas to work with.

    Reply
  2. Cathy Alderson

    This is brilliant news. The buildings are superb. My Dad was born in Arley Street (a continuation of Summer Seat, now long demolished) He would have been 100 last October and used to talk about those buildings with great affection.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      As well he might Cathy. People are commenting on Twitter now who grew up in Eldon Grove and everyone is absolutely delighted. A good day for Liverpool.

      Reply
  3. Gerry

    Now all we need is for Heap’s mill to be saved (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/heaps-mill-campaigners-launch-petition-7364671). The longer I live, the more I grow to despise the determination of property developers to pile it high. This one will destroy Liverpool’s skyline for generations (and it’s a joke – ‘apartments for ordinary Liverpudlians’). I note also that, though the new Everyman building is on the shortlist for the Stirling architecture prize, the Towering Shard is the bookies favourite. Give me the Everyman any day, with its rooftop nesting boxes for bats and swifts, its bee hives, and its contribution to the vivacity of life in Liverpool, over a steel and glass tower.

    Reply
  4. Helen Devries

    What lovely news….a beautiful building restored and not knocked down to be replaced by the modern slums that sell for prices out of the reach of ordinary people.

    Reply
  5. lindsay53

    Fabulous news, Ronnie!! The thrill extends all the way across to here, in SW France! I have goose bumps of pleasure just reading this post. I look forward to your account and photos of its progress. Let’s hope it’s not too long in starting!

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Apparently going for planning approval in September Lindsay. But I’ll let you know more once I find out. People here are absolutely thrilled with this. A victory for common sense, sure, but also the result of a considerable amount of negotiating, good will and good luck, I’d imagine.

      Reply
  6. julen

    Very happy to know that this splendid piece of architecture will be saved and people will again be living there in a year time. Discovered Eldon Grove with the google earth and fell in love with the place. Very much hope that Toxteth Cathedral is also saved and reused as a community centre, university branch or any other social use. regards from Euskal Herria, the Basque Country

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thank you Euskal, lovely to hear from the Basque Country. Yes the ‘Welsh’ Cathedral on Princes Road is looking fragile at the moment. But who knows, if Eldon Grove can be saved maybe that’s next?

      Reply
  7. Dr Robert G MacDonald

    This is excellent news. As an architect I worked on St Martins Cottages, first Council Housing, and designed the Portland Gardens Housing Coop. Bevington Street is a beautiful example of Arts & Crafts Social Housing. Pity we don’t have more such
    Quality rather than cheap tacky tack!

    Reply
  8. John Viggars

    I’ve only just read your blog & was very pleased to see the news on Eldon Grove. By chance I took my wife there last night (after having a look around the new Titanic Hotel) She had read about Eldon Grove in previous blogs & said it was so sad that it had got into such a state. So renovation can only be a positive rather than demolition. I also note the comments above about St Martins Cottages. It is a shame that they weren’t saved as one of my Gt Grandfathers lived there for a short time in the 1890’s Would have been better to see the real thing rather than the pictures on the ‘net.

    Reply
  9. Eileen May Brodie

    My Husbands Great Great Uncle John Alexander Brodie, City Engineer was reponsible for this building in Eldon Grove.

    Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s