Noticing the unkempt state of the former Garden Festival site towards the end of this November 2014) walk, you may well be glad to hear the whole site, including the unbuilt housing bit has now been bought from the non-developers by Liverpool City Council (June 2015) with plans to make better use of the place than at any time in the last 30 years. At last.
This is a favourite route of mine as a run. But it’s also a good walk. And since runs are tricky to photograph decently me and my camera set off to walk this particular 10k today. A sunny Sunday and the last day of November.
It’s now become part of a ‘Spire’ private clinic where, strangely, I was recently given NHS treatment when my left ear went deaf. A bizarre and unsettling experience getting state care in a place full of cosmetic surgery adverts.
Now the lucrative student housing market is shifting itself into new and expensive developments nearer the city centre.
I just can’t get myself worked up about them. It’s the second time in my lifetime their sell-off and development into housing has been proposed, both times under Conservative led governments. And I’d quite like them not to be sold off, but well, I’m having trouble working up the energy to finish the sentence.
Let’s walk on.
This is where my spirit lives, the place where all my big decisions have been taken and all my best work done. The municipally planted architecture of my life.
I’m reading ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ to remember P.D. James who has died this week. Though she was a prominent Conservative I’ve only ever heard good things said about her. And so feel the world is a less well balanced place for her loss. Gracious and intelligent political debate is an essential part of any civilised society and something we see precious little of in these days. So here’s to P.D. James, gracious and intelligent.
This little river is the confluence of the Upper and Lower Brooks that have been partially dammed to form the lakes and waterways of Greenback Park, Greenback House and Sefton Park. From here to the Mersey it’s now culverted.
Before it became a municipal park this was also the driveway to a 19th century grand House.
So at first sight it’s strange that this old carriageway should be crossed by a railway.
And it was owned by John Moss, who invested early and well in the development of the railways. Unfortunately he also invested enthusiastically in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. So I never walk across his property without cursing his memory for that.
Eventually the land and the house passed to Liverpool City who demolished the house in 1930 as part of the major landscaping project that was the creation of Otterspool Promenade.
Well actually it’s the rocks taken out of the Liverpool end of the Mersey Tunnel as they were building it in the early 1930s.
Asked later for identification Sarah thinks this might be mallow. ‘Very late though?’
And somewhere more interesting happens.
The land is very uneven, so I think it might still be the rocks from the Mersey Tunnel, but just dumped at the point where Otterspool Prom used to end.
A place of walkers, runners and once I remember a Gypsy camp. A wonderfully ‘outside’ kind of place.
The completion of the Promenade into the City was carried out in the early 1980s by a Manpower Services project (remember them?) managed by Liverpool Housing Trust Community Projects, part of where I worked in those days. Us ‘Housing for those in greatest need’ champions were entirely opposed to this scheme. Time and this walk might suggest we were entirely wrong?
Though constructed with post 1981 riots public money this is now a private park.
As I find when I fall flat on my back stepping onto it from the Pagoda! This walking around can be a dangerous business you know?
This fall will later turn out to have sprained my ribs. Yes, who knew you could sprain them? My backpack protected me to some extent from the impact, but it contained a couple of books, one of which – my doctor reckons – has pushed into the side of my ribcage slightly parting the ribs and thus spraining them. ‘Four to five weeks of discomfort’ to look forward to!
Then more evidence of dropping standards here.
It’s of great historical significance, architecturally. But for me, every time I pass it simply means ‘Andy Barrett’. I knew him first from my time at Liverpool Housing Trust. When he died a few years ago his funeral was held here and the huge church was full to overflowing with all of us, overwhelmed by his early death. So I thought of you today as I passed your church Andy, like I always do.
Where I do something I’d never do if this were a 10k run. Call into Greendays over there for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.
Ronnie and I went to school together and as I come in he delights in telling everyone already there that the ‘great housing campaigner is amongst us!’ Ronnie’s a lifelong Guardian reader and has of course seen The Guardian article this week.
Passing here I recall that among the many great things she did in a life of determined public service, she was for many years the Councillor for Granby. And I hope we’ve done her proud this year, all of us involved in Granby 4 Streets. I think we have.