A while back something precious arrived in the post in Granby from Nick Hedges. A CD full of photographs he’d taken in 1969 and soon after of life in Granby and around Liverpool 8 in those years. He said we could make whatever use of them we thought best, so I’m going to use a selection of them on this post today, as I continue telling the evolving story of Granby.
As you can see in these years Granby is full of people looking after their homes and the streets where they live. And in the years leading up to 1969 Granby Street, the main street through the middle of the area, is lined with all kinds of shops on both sides of the road.
A sign there pointing along to the public baths on Lodge Lane that still existed then.
Everything looking settled and thriving enough to keep all these shops going.
And as I type out their names I’m aware that these are not street names you’ll recognise if most of your knowledge of Granby comes from this blog. Because these are the gone streets of Granby, entering their late days here as the late 1960s arrive.
In these days Granby Street still flows onto Upper Parliament Street, one of the main roads into the city centre a mile or so away. And through the 1960s there’s been talk of the M62 Motorway coming into the city along Upper Parliament. By 1969 we know this won’t happen, but it has been decided it will form part of an inner ring-road. Thus beginning the blighting that large scale engineering works can often cause once announced in an area where people are living their lives. Look:
In the middle of the photograph Upper Falkner, Canning and Huskisson have already gone. Granby Street is the one running into the bottom corner of this demolished area, with its own residential streets stretched out either side of it in a triangle towards the bottom right corner of the photo along Princes Avenue (‘Granby 4 Streets’ as we’ll come to call them, are the last four streets as the triangle reaches Princes Avenue).
Though not much demolition has yet happened in Granby (though some blocks of shops have already gone in the photograph) it has now been classified, in the charmless vernacular of the time, as a ‘twilight’ area. One with an uncertain but clearly not very bright future.
As with blighting everywhere a good many of the people who can leave do so immediately. Those who can’t or won’t then find the empty houses around them being sold or rented cheaply by sometimes unscrupulous landlords out to make some quick money while they can by exploiting people. Creating the living conditions I’m about to show you in the Granby of the end of the 1960s. These are the Nick Hedges photos and I’m going to stick with his own captions on them, again redolent of these times of growing up in Granby.
I don’t know about you but these pictures make me cry, particularly the ones of the children of Granby. Indeed, after he’d used some of them for Shelter, who’d commissioned him, Nick Hedges embargoed the photographs for 40 years, until all the children in them were grown up.
So anyway, this is where Shelter enter the Granby Story.
To their immense and abiding credit Shelter decide to see if they can do anything about what’s just happened in Granby. And I’ll be telling you the full story of what they did one of these days.
But in short they get Liverpool Corporation to co-operate on an experiment where they work with all of the people of Granby to see if the area’s multiple deprivations can be tackled in multiple ways.
In the sketch map of Ducie Street above we see the small local housing associations getting involved. LHT (Liverpool Housing Trust) where I’ll start working a few years later, getting going with some of its first properties here. Gradually taking over the multi-lets (‘M’ on the map) from the unprincipled rogues who were piling as many families as they could get into them.
The worst overcrowding LHT ever find is in one large house in Ducie Street where every room, including the basements as pictured above, is let to a separate family. Eleven families in all in the house. Even now I can never stand in Ducie Street without feeling the rage and unfairness of that.
The inviting of Ken to do this is done by the people themselves, as you’d expect.
And the streets of Granby survive the threat of ‘twilight’ days. Though as the children in these photographs grow up their Granby will not turn out to be the quiet home they might be expecting.
This house is 61 Cairns Street. And like a couple of other houses at that end of the street it still has this mosaic frontage.
But clearly Granby goes through many adventures since 1969. And time has not yet been kind to 61 Cairns.
We’ll soon be starting work on 55, 57 and 59 Cairns. So we might yet get to these two. We’d certainly love to.
But for now, goodbye to 1969 and thank you to Shelter, Nick Hedges and everyone who worked on the Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project. Particularly remembering in this post the team’s sociologist. From Liverpool University’s Architecture Department, Sarah’s Dad and my future father in law, Frank Horton.
I think I was always going to end up working in Granby.
Postscript: I’ve been contacted by Michael Simon, who works with us as part of the 4 Streets Community Land Trust, and he tells me the small boy in the centre of the ‘Playbus’ photo above is himself. He also knows a few of the other children pictured, though I’ll only reveal their names if they should ever see the post and tell me that would be ok.