Yes, it sounds like a learned historical essay such as ‘The Lollards of Pre-Reformation England’ doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Part One here of a two part quest to find out why Liverpool 8 has so many bollards.
The other day someone contacted me through my friend Marianne who’s an architect, and asked me this intriguing question:
“Why are there so many bollards in Liverpool 8?”
Well why are there? Do you know?
Well, having worked in and walked around here for 40 years now I confess I’d stopped noticing there were any at all. But having mentally walked myself up and down more than a few roads with bollards blocking the end, I was able to fairly quickly send the enquiring academic this reply:
“From working in L8 in the 1970s I can confirm that the first wave of bollards arrived to get rid of kerb crawling. In Granby the Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project 1969/72 (I have a copy of their final report) worked with all the people living there to identify cross disciplinary solutions to the area’s multiple deprivations. And one of the solutions was to close off selected streets as the area was then the city’s main red light district. (That is why even now, when there are only 4 of the original streets remaining, 2 of them – Cairns and Ducie – are cul de sacs as far as cars are concerned.)
Closing off Granby worked for Granby, but of course the kerb crawling problem simply moved – to the Canning area – resulting in the closing and bollarding of most of the streets leading onto Upper Parliament.
The next wave of bollards and full, not just car cul de sacs, did indeed arrive after the 1981 riots. And Owen Hatherley attributes these directly to riot control experience from Belfast. They’re why nearly the whole of Granby as rebuilt could now be ‘kettled’ by very few troops or police. The other anti riot measure I remember being described as such at the time are the ‘riot hills’ built along Upper Parly outside the Women’s Hospital. When this land was flat it was the main gathering place for the ’81 riots, so obviously a few little hills would stop any repeats of that nonsense!”
All fine, I’d say and as accurate as my own memory and the definite evidence of the SNAP report can confirm. Except I now realise that my mental walk around the intriguing question had only reminded me of the blindingly obvious examples of our rich bollard heritage. So come with me now and let’s walk around to celebrate and find what a load of bollards we’ve got.
And so clearly needed this maximum bollardisation. What shall we call these? Fat bollards?
Curious bollarding this though. And it’s the same on all the other Canning Area streets. There are bollards and you’re forbidden from driving in, but the road is not actually blocked off. Access for emergency services, or in case those splendid but long empty homes get squatted?
Though in the mid-1970s I had a couple of friends who lived in a flat in Cathedral Mansions at the end there, and I remember them telling me that turning the street into a cosy cul-de-sac, before those new houses were built, had actually created a safely unobserved place for the street workers to take their ‘clients.’ Good, considerate urban design!
This was formerly one of the main roads through Liverpool 8 and it now shares a kind of ghost status with a couple more ex-main roads we’ll see shortly.
Just in case we thought we were welcome in.
Now, as the rain pours down enough to make it look especially miserable, we come to one of those ex-main roads I mentioned.
From town I used to get either an 82 bus along Park Road or an 85 along here. Now there’s no such thing as the 85.
And another of those ex-main roads, Grafton Street. Now on a map, even now, Grafton Street might look like it stretches from Parliament Street to nearly Aigburth, at least two miles away.
Indeed Grafton Street, I’d say, is the most interfered with street in Liverpool. Walking on to that estate there and along for a bit, just when I think the street’s getting going it gets broken down again.
In ‘A guide to the new ruins of Great Britain’ he talks about this 1970s and onwards cul de sac building and containment of whole areas with bollards being imported from military experience in Northern Ireland and aggressively promoted by British police forces as ‘Secured by Design.’ Its ulterior purpose though being to enable a small number of security personnel to contain, subdue and as we now call it ‘kettle’ the supposed potentially riotous working classes much more easily than the old porous grids of terraced houses would permit.
Certainly these roads and estates I’m walking through here could be easily sealed off and any vehicle larger than a bike would find it almost impossible to escape. Hemmed in by cul de sacs and bollards.
Back up on Mill Street, one of several examples of some brand new bollards.
To stop cars being parked?
Still though, in pure bollard terms I’ve spoken too soon.
Where both ends of this empty half of the street are bollarded off.
As I said, a bollarding classic. Could well get a blue plaque one of these days for its beyond belief pointlessness.
Arriving at last, in the driving rain, at Ducie Street.
Voted for by the residents during the days of the Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project, 1969/1972 to cut one of the area’s major problems, kerb-crawling. Two of the four remaining original streets bollarded at this end.
At which point I decide, blog post or no blog post, that me and my camera have walked through more than enough rain on this urban design quest to find the perfect bollard. One final example then.
There’s so much else to show you. Around Granby, also those riot hills down by the Women’s Hospital and some posh and colourful bollards to go with them. So I’ll add to this lot on a drier day.
Meanwhile, as the rain continues here on this wet play afternoon?
I’m going to do a full post on this one of these days, but just a quick look here at them planning the blocked off streets and ending the kerb-crawling.
But see how the road is narrowed with ‘landscaping’ trees and the bollarded bays that are to be used for car parking? Now go well back in this post to the photograph of the wasted end of Mill Street now – and see how this idea worked out.
So, a fascinating if wet walk through urban planning history and how good intentions in one part of Liverpool 8 caused such arid consequences, as time went by, in other areas of the same district. It’s a load of bollards, of course.
Part Two of this Bollards of L8 quest here at ‘Now With Added Bollards!’