In North Liverpool: At Rotunda

A brilliant place for looking up from your life.

A brilliant place for looking up from your life.

When I told a friend I’d been to Rotunda he’d never heard of them. “What is it?” he said “What do they do?” I took a deep breath and said roughly this:

“Basically they’re a community led place that’s there to improvise whatever help’s needed around whoever comes through their Kirkdale door. Alternative education for the young, adult education, counselling, legal advice, loads of community stuff, a business centre, a café that’s also a history resource, a nursery, a gorgeous garden round the side & a big space out the front for events – plus advocacy for the future of North Liverpool. From a beautiful row of Georgian houses on Great Mersey Street. Oh and they’ve also got their own folly.”

In case you know as much about Rotunda as my friend I’ll tell you how to get there.

You could get the 27 like me to the bottom of Everton Valley.

You could get the 27 bus  like me to the bottom of Everton Valley.

You cross Scotland Road and Smith Street.

You cross Scotland Road and Smith Street.

And turn into this part of Great Mersey Street.

And turn into this part of Great Mersey Street.

We're only about a mile out of the city centre here.

We’re only about a mile out of the city centre here.

And just opposite the big new building site between Scotland Road and Great Homer Street.

Is that clear enough.

Is that clear enough?

And here it is over there.

And here it is over there.

In most of this beautiful row of Georgian houses, Rotunda.

In most of this beautiful row of Georgian houses, Rotunda.

And pausing for a minute in the interests of photography on a sunny day, here’s the Folly I mentioned.

It divides opinion.

It divides opinion.

As good art often will.

As good art often will.

But Emma from Rotunda has told me “You’ll only really get it if you step inside.”

So here we are.

So here we are.

Looking at where we are in a new way.

Looking at where we are in a new way.

Looking at Rotunda.

Looking at Rotunda.

When I was a small boy travelling into town on the bus the conductors would always cry out ‘The Rotunda!’ when we got to here. It was the name for this triangular part of Kirkdale, where Scotland Road and Stanley Road divide. But the conductors weren’t announcing the place I’m going to show you today, they were announcing a memory.

A memory of The Rotunda Theatre.

A memory of The Rotunda Theatre.

Completely destroyed in the second world war, it reached back to roughly where the folly stands today. Its former site now mostly occupied by houses.

But the name lives on.

But the name lives on.

And actually they've been working along here for a good few years now.

And actually they’ve been working along here for a good few years now.

And you'll be able to read more of their story soon.

And you’ll be able to read more of their story soon.

But not on here. This is just an introductory nose around.

But not on here. This is just an introductory nose around.

I’m working with them on a new blog and website where we’ll be telling you the stories of who they are, what they do and what they could mean for you and your life. So today’s visit is to let you know about that. And I’ll remind you of it again when it’s all ready for you to start reading.

In the meantime let's have a look inside.

In the meantime let’s have a look inside.

Here's the café which also tells the story of hundreds of years of what's happened round here.

Here’s the café which also tells the story of hundreds of years of what’s happened round here.

An industrial and maritime heritage as rich as anywhere on Earth.

An industrial and maritime heritage as rich as anywhere on Earth.

Upstairs from here is their new Business Centre, full of light filled Georgian rooms for working and meeting in.

The next several buildings along are where all the other activities I talked about at the beginning take place.

The next several buildings along are where all the other activities I talked about at the beginning take place.

And outside is the gorgeous garden I mentioned.

Though on stepping out here the rain swept in off the river nearby.

Though on stepping out here the rain has swept in off the river nearby.

But there's this living willow structure that also doubles as a bird hide.

Still there’s this living willow tunnel that also doubles as a bird hide.

A secret garden too.

A secret garden too.

For telling stories in.

For telling stories in.

All sorts going on.

All sorts going on.

And even in the winter there is colour.

Even in the winter there is colour.

And we’ll be launching their blog in the next few weeks to tell you more about all of this.

And of course to tel you the stories of the people.

And of course to tell you the stories of the people.

Working, learning, gardening, volunteering, caring, being together and telling their North Liverpool stories. The Stories of Rotunda, coming soon.

In the meantime and if you just can’t wait, call in at the café, call in at the Business Centre, call in anywhere at Rotunda and there’ll be friendly people to welcome you and talk with you about, well, life.

Looking up from life, at Rotunda.

Looking up from our lives, at Rotunda.

Honest disclosure, you can’t pay me to write on here, and Rotunda haven’t. But they are paying me to work on their coming up blog and website with them. Writing, it’s one of the things I do.

Meanwhile, get in touch with them at these contact details or go and visit them at 107-115 Great Mersey St, Kirkdale, Liverpool, L5 2PL.

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