Lister Steps: Walking into the future? Part One

A two part pictorial special on plans to bring the almost derelict Lister Drive library building back to life.
Post cardI’ve spent a good deal of time this past year writing about, thinking about and talking about public libraries and austerity politics. Trying to work out how we hold on to as many as possible while we weather this particular political storm. And on this blog I’ve visited several of those that have been under some degree of threat in Liverpool and on the Wirral.

Well as well as the libraries I’ve featured there are several buildings in Liverpool that used to be libraries but disappeared from our lists long before the current round of attacks on them began. In Everton and Lodge Lane for example, plus the one where we’re going today and in the next post. To have a look into its possible future.

Catching the 62 on a sunny blue morning, round the corner from home.

Catching the 62 on a sunny blue morning, round the corner from home.

Getting off in Green Lane. Surrounded by Stoneycroft, Old Swan and Tuebrook.

Getting off in Green Lane. Surrounded by Stoneycroft, Old Swan and Tuebrook. Nearly there.

A mix of residential and industrial.

A mix of residential and industrial.

In a road with a significant name.

In a road with a significant name.

Just next to the Secret Garden, long overgrown, that we'll be exploring later on.

Just next to the Secret Garden, long overgrown, that we’ll be exploring later on.

The Secret Garden of what began life as what it says.

The Secret Garden of what began life as what it says.

It’s not time to meet our guides yet, so let’s have a walk round first. Along Lister Drive into Newsham Park.

Here's how it looked here back in the 1920s.

Here’s how it looked here back in the 1920s.

The library is in the top centre of the picture. Next along there was a school. And then a public swimming baths. Before passing the obvious and strangely sited power station on the edge of the park. The library, the school and the baths were all designed by one of the great heroes of municipal Liverpool, and certainly a central figure in today’s story, architect Thomas Shelmerdine.

A magnificently wide road for the traffic it carries today.

A magnificently wide road for the traffic it carries today.

The old Orphanage, latterly Newsham Park hospital is still over there.

The old Orphanage, latterly Newsham Park hospital is still over there.

Currently planning its own new lease of life.

Approaching Newsham Park. A road sign by the people and for the people.

Approaching Newsham Park. A road sign by the people and for the people.

Reaching the Park...

Reaching the Park…

It's time to turn back.

It’s time to turn back.

The power station land is still owned by an energy company.

The power station land is still owned by an energy company.

And Shelmerdine's public swimming baths?

And Shelmerdine’s public swimming baths?

Are still here.

Are still here.

Full of fish!

Full of fish!

Yes, by any standards, surreal. By my own reckoning the place has been an aquarium for over 20 years now. I remember buying goldfish here with my own daughter when she was a child.

And it's still going.

And it’s still going.

Proving that great architecture...

Proving that great architecture…

Can lend itself to many uses...

Can lend itself to many uses…

Over time.

Over time.

As we’ll be finding out once more when we get to Part Two of our Lister Drive visit.

Because where the school used to stand...

Because where the school used to stand…

Is now this nursery and after school club.

Is now this nursery and after school club.

It’s popular and is used by over 100 local families. But the local community think the local children deserve better. And they’re clearly right.

So they're organising.

So they’re organising.

To bring a Secret Garden...

To bring a Secret Garden…

And its Shelmerdine gem, back to life.

And its Shelmerdine gem, back to life.

So come back for Part Two, when we’ll get inside the long closed Lister Drive Library and hear what the local community are planning for its future.

7 thoughts on “Lister Steps: Walking into the future? Part One

  1. Pak

    It was a very nice library, shame it had to shut. Used to go there after signing on across the Road at the jobcentre.

    Lister Drive baths brings back bad memories and the smell of chlorine. Never did learn to swim there, must have swallowed a few mouthfuls of the bath water though.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Pak, I remember when the baths first had fish in it didn’t have fences around the pool. So some children must, I hope, have jumped in. And got more than a mouthful of water and chlorine!

      And Lister Drive isn’t going to be a library again, I’d have thought, after all this time. But it will be a beautiful place for the children and us older people if all goes well.

      Reply
    2. Stephen

      Lister drive swimming baths played a big part in my childhood. Some good memories & some not so good.
      The good: A place too swim, play, act daft & be a child (even though health and safety regulations would now ban the things we used to get up to).
      The bad: Many a scrap with other boys over the most trivial of stuff. When aged about eleven I recall splashing another lad by accident and him then smacking me one in the gob without notice. He then stepped out of the water & beckoned me out to continue the fight. I began lifting myself out to oblige only for the sneak to kick me in the face and back into the water. He was now being egged on and supported by a gang of some mates (at least half a dozen) all baying for blood. My mate scarpered! I somehow found the courage to climb out via the steps and approached this kid (and his mates), By this time the whole of the swimming baths were surrounding us with no sign of an attendant. What proceeded was at least three minutes of full on fist fighting with both giving as good as we got. We stumbled down the stairs at the back and through the doors and into the open air. Eventually we were stopped by two white boiler clad attendants who praised us for “the best fight we’ve seen in years.”

      Thanks for bring back back such “not so cherished” memories Ronnie.

      Great to see the work being done by Lister Steps by the way.

      Reply
  2. Mark Turner

    All my young memories here. i lived on green lane went to lister drive school,and went the baths every monday for school, we used to have lister drive swimming gala,the walking race for those who couldnt swim, the noise was deafening when a race was on, and of couse the library, also remrmber the smell, very peacefull place it was, hopefully it can get restored, as for my old school well sad for what happened to it,i always wonder who burnt it down and why?

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Mark, didn’t realise the school had ben burned down. Explains why there’s no trace of it now.

      And I remember those walking races in the baths. Side to side I assume? Don’t like to think of you all being force marched into the deep end!

      Reply

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