Walking to Eldon Grove and Rotunda

Eldon&Rotunda - 48Updated  November 2016

The plans mentioned below for the restoration of Eldon Grove do now seem as if they will receive planning permission, despite the objections of many local people. The blocks of new flats around Eldon Grove that they are objecting to will still be built, though those to the front have now been reduced to three storeys from four. So I’m very glad that what I consider to be the most beautiful municipal housing ever built is to be saved. But I’m bewildered that we’re not treating it with more respect.

A slate grey cold February Friday? Maybe, but dry and perfectly fine for a short but more than interesting walk from town to Rotunda. Passing, on the way, a worrying update to my continuing tale of our precious Eldon Grove. A contrasting study, in fact with Rotunda, in the long term effects of how we love and care for two of the places and buildings that should most matter to us?

I set off from a morning meeting in Central Library.

I set off from a morning meeting in Central Library.

Walking towards North Liverpool.

Walking towards North Liverpool.

I could of course go straight along the main road, but where's the interest in that?

I could of course go straight along the main road, but where’s the interest in that?

So I weave along more interesting paths.

So I weave along more interesting paths.

Past where Fontenoy Gardens tenements used to be.

Past where Fontenoy Gardens tenements used to be.

And across Leeds Street.

And across Leeds Street.

This is where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal used to end, it’s why it’s called Leeds Street. On this 1908 OS map you can see the canal running along the side of the railway lines and warehouses, then turning east to the coal wharves where the barges would unload.

Leeds Street and the canal, 1908.

Leeds Street and the canal, 1908.

Next we'll find what used to be the first village outside of Liverpool town.

Next we’ll find what used to be the first village outside of Liverpool town.

Bevington Bush.

Bevington Bush.

For many years now a piece of leftover edgeland.

For many years now a piece of leftover edgeland.

But not for long now.

But not for long now.

There are student housing plans, which you can read about here. Now on another day I might set off on a well-worn riff about the amount of student housing we’re building. But we’re now approaching something that concerns me much more.

Coming up across the tunnel bridge.

Coming up across the tunnel bridge.

In casual conversation the other day I called this 'The new tunnel' and was given a very strange look.

In casual conversation the other day I called this ‘The new tunnel’ and was given a very strange look.

By someone not born until long after this second Mersey Tunnel got built in 1973.

By someone not born until long after this second Mersey Tunnel got built in 1973.

Anyway, joking aside, here we are.

Anyway, joking aside, here we are.

Lovely settled Summer Seat.

Lovely settled Summer Seat.

And Bevington Street.

And Bevington Street.

Built 1911 and still fine.

Built 1911 and still fine.

So they should be. Both newer than the terraced house I live in.

But the other side of Bevington Street is one of the saddest sights in Liverpool.

Eldon Grove.

Eldon Grove.

Built just after its neighbouring houses and one of the finest example of municipal housing on Earth.

Places to live, places to sit, stroll, read and play.

 

Not even built on this 1908 OS map, when around Bevington Street, at the centre below, was mostly still crowded courts.

1908, before Eldon Grove.

1908, before Eldon Grove.

Still lived in and visited by me when I started my first housing job round here in 1972.

Still lived in and visited by me when I started my first housing job round here in 1972.

Now long empty.

Now long empty.

And falling gently apart.

And falling gently apart.

“Well never mind’ you might be saying, ‘We’ve been hearing for a couple of years now about plans for it to be gently and carefully restored haven’t we?”

Yes you have, on here and in the Liverpool Echo and greatly to the credit of local people and their City Councillor Malcolm Kennedy.

Well I can tell you now those plans have fallen apart.

Well I can tell you now those plans have fallen apart.

Eldon Grove was due to be renovated and as late as last summer all appeared to be going well with everything in place for an on site start. Then at the last moment, with contracts ready to be signed off, the developers pulled out.

Putting Eldon Grove in grave danger.

Putting Eldon Grove in grave danger.

I talked this through with Malcolm Kennedy a couple of weeks back, and it came as news to me, as it may well to you.

There is however another planning application that's now been submitted.

There is however another planning application that’s now been submitted.

Which Malcolm describes as 'legitimate'

Which Malcolm describes as ‘valid’.

Which means validated by planners as ‘can be considered’ but  does not imply approval by the City Council

But you may well think there are problems with it.

Well you, me and many of us may well think there are problems with it.

You can read it here and see plans. And if you do you’ll see it contains proposals:

“To carry out various internal and external works in connection with conversion of tenement buildings to form 45 no. flats; erect 3 no. four storey block to rear comprising 42 no. flats; erect 2 no. four storey blocks to playground to front comprising 51 no. flats; and carry out associated landscaping and ancillary works.”

So that would be two four storey blocks on the playground at the front in the above photograph.

And three more four Story blocks around the back here.

And three more four storey blocks around the back here.

So a total of 93 new build flats.

So a total of 93 new build flats.

Around the 45 restored flats of Eldon Grove.

Around the 45 restored flats of Eldon Grove.

I think it all looks too cramped and crowded here on:

The proposed site plan.

The proposed site plan.

And you can see more plans and elevations at the planning link above. So what do you think?

Well I think it’s better, much better than Eldon Grove being allowed to fall down. But the great glory of the place is that it’s so beautiful. To look at and, I remember, to look out of.

And we might not be able to see it any more.

But soon we might not be able to see it any more.

Five four storey blocks around one of Liverpool’s finest pieces of architectural and municipal heritage? If St George’s Hall were in need of restoration would we build five four storey blocks of flats around it to make the scheme stack up? I don’t think so.

Anyway, now you know.

For today, I walk on.

For today, I walk on.

Scotland Road and Everton visible through the trees.

Scotland Road and Everton visible through the trees.

Up Sylvester Street. More houses as old as Eldon Grove doing perfectly well.

Up Sylvester Street. More houses as old as Eldon Grove doing perfectly well.

Lovely. The last bit of Scotland Road that still contains 'a pub on every corner'

Lovely. The last bit of Scotland Road that still contains ‘a pub on every corner’

Where Woodstock Gardens tenements used to be.

Where Woodstock Gardens tenements used to be.

Where I worked in 1972.

Where I worked in 1972.

The site of the former Liverpool Corporation Benledi Street Housing office.

Along Scotland Road, 'The Parrot' long closed down.

Along Scotland Road, ‘The Parrot’ long closed down.

Opposite, Everton peering over the 'Project Jennifer' wall.

Opposite, Everton peering over the ‘Project Jennifer’ wall.

All kinds of works going on.

All kinds of works going on.

Where some survivors survive.

Though some survivors survive.

Then crossing Boundary Street someone beeps me.

Then crossing Boundary Street someone beeps me.

“Take a picture!” they shout.

So I do and here it is.

So I do and here it is.

If you know who these friendly locals are let them know they’re on the blog!

Turning onto Stanley Road we've nearly got where we're going.

Turning onto Stanley Road we’ve nearly got where we’re going.

Having walked through a much loved place that could do with a fair bit more love from the rest of us, we’re now arriving at one of its gems.

Rotunda.

Rotunda.

I’ve written about what goes on here fairly recently and also told you I’m working with them on their new website and blog.

Today I'm here for some writing and talking.

Today I’m here for some writing and talking.

But first what’s becoming a ritual for me in their Folly out the front. I walk in, lay down on my back:

And photograph the sky.

And photograph the sky.

Then it's time for lunch.

Then it’s time for lunch.

On the way into the café I meet Maxine Ennis, Chief Executive of Rotunda, and Phil Cashen, Chair and enthusiastic local historian. We talk shared experiences and long ago tales neither of us were involved in. Like when St Anthony’s boys played St Sylvester’s football team at Goodison Park and 27,000 people saw them lose. A prime example of the sort of thing that will be turning up soon on the new Rotunda blog.

Phil and Maxine of Rotunda. Keeping warm in the winter wind!

Phil and Maxine of Rotunda. Keeping warm in the winter wind!

We go into the café and Maxine shows four first time visitors from Huyton round the local history display.

We go into the café and Maxine shows four first time visitors from Huyton round the local history display.

They’re intrigued and more than interested. A beautiful and interesting place.

Including this picture from my own memories. Benledi Street Housing offoce that I mentioned earlier, with Woodstock Gardens next to it.

Including this picture from my own memories. Benledi Street Housing office that I mentioned earlier, with Woodstock Gardens next to it.

You'd be well advised to come here for a nose around.

You’d be well advised to come here to Rotunda for a nose around.

And even if you don’t, you’ll be able to read much more about the place when we launch its new blog and website in around three weeks from now.

So, treasured Rotunda just  along the road from troubled Eldon Grove? Surely it should not be beyond the collective will and wits of a great City to look after them both?

 

 

12 thoughts on “Walking to Eldon Grove and Rotunda

  1. faymondo

    Always fascinated me Eldon Grove in the pre internet days when it was harder to come about its previous history. Am I right in thinking it has been done up once but nobody actually moved in ? Such a shame if the place gets flattened. A city that has lost so much buildings wise still not learning from its history. I will leave it at that and not post my cynical view ;0)

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      I think, and this is only from walking around it and seeing bricks and stones stacked up at the back, that development might have started and then failed. Those buildings really don’t look like anyone has ever done them up and completed the job.

      Reply
  2. Stephen Barker

    I can see why you are upset about Eldon Grove, it deserves better. The proposed enabling development seems insensitive and heavy handed.

    Reply
  3. John Viggars

    I thought I would be horrified by the plans for Eldon Gdns but they actually quite sympathetic considering what normally gets put forward these days
    Some of the demolished streets off Scottie Road may have been worth saving but my recollection was that many weren’t . The important thing is that we don’t lose the important bits of social history like the remaining Eldon block & hidden gems like Summer Seat

    Reply
      1. John Viggars

        I totally agree that there appears to be too much packed into the development but I guess yet again beggars can’t be choosers. Would be sad to see them go like St Martins Cottages did (but those tenements were probably past their useful life & not up to conversion to livable C 20/21st dwellings?) Eldon needs to be sorted before rotting away completely

  4. John Savage

    I had a walk around Eldon Grove several years ago and there were renovation works going on then, so some work had been done on the flats, so I was very surprised when I read that they were derelict again. I think they were supposed to be turned in to student flats, so I have to wonder why, when so many other student projects have been proposed and built, this one collapsed?

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi John, I think that work is why there are neatly stacked piles of old bricks around the back. They were obviously doing bits of stripping back I’d guess, but didn’t get very far.

      Reply

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