It can’t have escaped your notice if you visit this blog regularly that I’ve been involved for 5 years now with the community of people and orgnisations who are restoring the last original 4 Streets of houses in Granby, Liverpool.Now in these last few weeks my involvement has entered the new stage for me, of actually representing the community on site as we begin the next phase of restoring our Community Land Trust houses. I’m loving doing this so much that I wanted to write a bit about it on here.
With the houses being near derelict and empty the best part of 20 years, making them fit for people to live in again has been a complicated business.
It made a great end to a very busy summer though. A summer of award nominations, international media attention – and us trying to get the houses done.
To say we all learned loads from the first five would be an understatement. Still I half surprised myself when I stuck my hand up a few weeks back and said I’d like to look after the next five.
We want to get the first three of these finished by Christmas. So with the team in place, including Steve Ross from our tender winners Penny Lane Builders – we went on site the same day we celebrated finishing the first 5.
A terraced house taken right back to its bricks to begin its next incarnation. A new life it might never have got but for the determination and intelligence of the local people.
As I walk along Cairns Street over the next few days there is a great sense of energy and purpose coming from what I’ve come to think of as ‘the new houses.’
Wet rot in the floor joists of one mean we need to take up and replace the floor.
I feel like I’m up here with my 21st century camera looking back 140 years to when the house was built.
Over their many years of dilapidation our houses have lost virtually all of their original features apart from their basic structures.
These in the picture above are actually in the process of being carefully wrapped up to be transported to Glasgow, for Assemble’s display at the Turner Prize Exhibition, now open in Glasgow.
For the Exhibition, Assemble have had the interior of a Cairns Street house constructed to display everything in. And it’s not just a display, it’s a shop.
This is a new social enterprise being kickstarted by Assemble at the Turner Exhibition. A brilliant way of launching something we’re all excited about. Something we think will be great for all the people in and around Granby who can make things and want to make things.
Two of the houses we were going to restore are in a much worse state than the one above so we’re working on turning them into a Winter Garden/community gathering/and artist in residence space (A story for another day). Meaning we’ve been having a look at other empty homes in Cairns Street that might replace them.
To start every week knowing that one of its highlights will be the Thursday site meeting. To walk along the street in between times and feel so much a part of a community that has quite literally put its own hands on its own land.
Meanwhile, high quality restoration works are taking place elsewhere in the 4 Streets.
Then this last Thursday evening, us lot from Granby 4 Streets CLT, Granby Workshop and Assemble took the evening off and all had a meal together, hosted by local arts organisation Metal in the splendour of the world’s oldest passenger railway station.
As we talked into the evening the trains went surreally by outside. Restoration can’t be all work you know.