Days of blue and grey

Including getting inside the Stanley Dock for the first time.

Including getting inside the Stanley Dock for the first time.

I love these February days like today when the sky here in Northern Britain is blue and it’s clear spring is on its way. Though we’re not through all of the grey winter days yet.

But today the sky is blue and that green colour you only see in spring is appearing.

But today the sky is blue and that green colour you only see in spring is appearing.

The ground here in Calderstones Park is full of new growth.

The ground here in Calderstones Park is full of new growth.

And around the base of some trees are gallants, the snowdrops are here.

And around the base of some trees are galanthus, the snowdrops are here.

And, cute wildlife alert:

If the squirrels ever did hibernate they're up now.

If the squirrels ever did hibernate they’re up now.

And tiny bits of colour...

And tiny bits of colour…

Are in the autumn leaf fall...

Are in the autumn leaf fall…

Everywhere you look.

Everywhere you look.

The great herbaceous border is bare still.

The great herbaceous border is bare still.

Though never quite devoid of life.

Though never quite devoid of life.

Meanwhile the park is bursting with half term life.

Meanwhile the park is bursting with half term life.

A mini protest about the adults only City Bikes?

A mini protest about the adults only City Bikes?

I get myself something to eat from the Reader Café.

I get myself something to eat from the Reader Café.

Then go and sit in the sunshine in the English Garden to read my book.

Then go and sit in the sunshine in the English Garden to read my book.

This book.

This book.

Since publishing Dave Sinclair’s beautiful photographs of Liverpool in the 1980s on here the other week, I’ve thought a lot about the times and the politics I was involved in then and may well write more about it. For the moment I’m fascinated by the book and the constant reminders in it that ‘I was there’.

A lot of Dave Sinclair’s 1980s photos were of North Liverpool and the industries round the docks dying. And one day last week, a grey day this one, I was along the Dock Road there to see somewhere coming back to life and get inside somewhere I’ve long wanted to. The Stanley Dock.

The Bascule Bridge is closed to traffic at the moment.

The Bascule Bridge is closed to traffic at the moment.

But I'm here to go into somewhere that's recently opened.

But I’m here to go into somewhere that’s recently opened.

In the Stanley Dock, the Titanic Hotel.

In the Stanley Dock, the Titanic Hotel.

Very grand.

Very grand.

Quite like the Albert Dock and also designed by Jesse Hartley.

Quite like the Albert Dock and also designed by Jesse Hartley.

I'm here talking about life and making the most of it with someone.

I’m here talking about life and making the most of it with someone.

The sort of thing I do.

The sort of thing I do for my work.

And a peaceful few hours we have of it, sitting in here and walking round the neighbourhood that still buzzes with al sorts of trade.

And a peaceful few hours we have of it, sitting in here and walking round the neighbourhood that still buzzes with all sorts of trade.

Here I am.

Here I am. My friend having a go of the new camera.

We deliberately sit by the window.

We deliberately sit by the window.

Delighted to be looking out at something so grand.

Delighted to be looking out at something so grand.

And eventually ‘something so grand’ demands to be photographed as more than background.

Here we are then, inside the Stanley Dock.

Here we are then, inside the Stanley Dock.

Closed off for ages as derelict, or a potential site or a huge disco or somewhere for filming the Peaky Blinders TV series.

Looking at it from this angle for the first time in my life.

Looking at it from this angle for the first time in my life. On a still and cold day.

The beautiful and huge tobacco warehouse.

The beautiful and huge tobacco warehouse.

And it gorgeous Bascule swing bridge.

And its gorgeous Bascule swing bridge.

See my previous North Docks post for more on the Bascule Bridge.

That's 27 million bricks, 30,000 panes of glass and 8,000 tons of steel.

That’s 27 million bricks, 30,000 panes of glass and 8,000 tons of steel.

Built in 1901.

Built in 1901.

And ending its days as a working warehouse in the 1980s.

And ending its days as a working warehouse in the 1980s.

Working inside there in the 1920s.

Working inside there in the 1920s.

While I’m taking these photos there are sounds of heavy works taking place from across the dock. Apparently it’s being turned into a mixture of apartments and market spaces.

But right now some of its old 'stuff' is still around.

But right now some of its old ‘stuff’ is still around.

A crane and this concrete building.

A crane and this concrete building.

And here...

And here…

Is where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal enters the North Docks.

Is where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal enters the North Docks.

A long and meandering way from Leeds to here.

A long and meandering way from Leeds to here.

Looking more closely at the ancient hardware.

Looking more closely at the ancient hardware.

That crane.

That crane.

Framing the past.

Framing the past.

The preserved.

The preserved.

And the future?

And the future?

Some of the dock building this side was destroyed in World War 2 and never replaced 'til now.

Some of the dock building this side was destroyed in World War 2 and never replaced ’til now.

So it's been great to finally get inside here.

So it’s been great to finally get inside here.

Beyond the fence.

Beyond the fence.

And this side of the Mersey Wall.

And this side of the Mersey Wall.

Even on such a grey and cold winter’s day this has been a real thrill for me. But I’ll be back for more on a blue day some time soon.

A day more like this.

A day more like this.

9 thoughts on “Days of blue and grey

  1. Mitch Markovitz

    From the frozen gray cornyards of Indiana. It’s a pleasure to get an internet lunchtime vacation to Liverpool. Beautiful photographs Ronnie. Would enjoy walking along the Dock Road.

    Reply
      1. Mitch Markovitz

        Thanks Ronnie. You may have to put up with my chattering about The Overhead. Looking forward to meeting the other creative folks in the group. As was said to me once a long time ago, “Us artists have to stick together!”

  2. tommurtha

    Hi Ronnie. Thanks for this memory. We once put together a scheme for these Docks but it never got off the drawing board. It is good to see them being used again once more.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Tom, it was great to get in there and to hear the works taking place opposite. My Dad was born just round the corner from here, so I’ve always viewed the Stanley Dock as, kind of, where I’m from.

      Reply
  3. Imogen

    Thank you, thank you for this wonderful blog.
    I’ve stumbled across it while looking for info on my beloved Stanley Dock which I had no idea was now being “Albertised” and like you, I have mixed feelings. So sad that it’s mighty, brooding, gritty presence is being turned in to a clean, sanitised place for people with money, but so happy that it’s been saved and will hopefully be loved by future generations.
    I love that place, my Dad worked for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board driving a low loader and often worked at the Stanley Dock. I stood the market from 1988 for 8 years and loved every single sunday, walking down Pneumonia Alley with my coffee on a break, looking at the rust and the pillars and sheer dominance and strength of the Tobacco Warehouse.
    I was lucky when the Market originally opened to have a guided tour around the whole warehouse – just me and the lovely man who’d set up the market and loved the Stanley Dock. I was blown away by the place.

    I’m from the Dingle and lived on the Shorefields, my Grandad used to take me down to see “The Boats” when I was tiny and me and my mates would wait for the Dockers to appear up the Iron Staircase, (The Iron-y), from the Herculaneum Dock most days after school, Grafton Street was a magical place to us in the early ’60’s.

    I’ve just spent the afternoon reading some of your many posts and have cried like a girl (well I am so I can!), I’m so grateful that you take the time to post, you open those memory-doors in our brains that sometimes we are too busy to dust off and peep through… those really precious things that shaped us.

    Thankyou again, a day well spent for me.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thank you so much Imogen, I’m so glad what I write means so much to you. Especially as you have such close relationships with some of the places I write about.

      Reply

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