Updated 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?
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.
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.
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.
Built just after its neighbouring houses and one of the finest example of municipal housing on Earth.
Not even built on this 1908 OS map, when around Bevington Street, at the centre below, was mostly still crowded courts.
“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?”
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.
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.
Which means validated by planners as ‘can be considered’ but does not imply approval by the City Council
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.
I think it all looks too cramped and crowded here on:
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.
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.
The site of the former Liverpool Corporation Benledi Street Housing office.
“Take a picture!” they shout.
If you know who these friendly locals are let them know they’re on the blog!
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.
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.
But first what’s becoming a ritual for me in their Folly out the front. I walk in, lay down on my back:
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.
They’re intrigued and more than interested. A beautiful and interesting place.
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?