Walking with Municipal Dreams

From LFC to Eldon Grove, talking history, housing and the beauty of hills.
DSC03239I’m on my way to meet John Boughton, renowned blogger as ‘Municipal Dreams’ and his partner Michele Grant, to go walking.

As usual in Anfield I get off the 27 bus at the top end of Oakfield Road.

As usual in Anfield I get off the 27 bus at the top end of Oakfield Road.

To see just how big the new stand is looking.

To see just how big the new stand is looking.

I meet John and Michele at the Shankly Statue as arranged.

I meet John and Michele at the Shankly Statue as arranged.

They live in London and have done for many years, but Michele grew up here in Liverpool.

And so has a properly reverential attitude to our beloved Bill.

And so has a properly reverential attitude to our beloved Bill.

I take them along for a look at the new stand.

I take them along for a look at the new stand.

All of us agreeing its big.

All of us agreeing its big.

And all suspecting that as its so much out of scale with the rest of the ground, then the rest of the ground will probably big-up too over the years to come.

As is my civic duty I point out what the Stand has cost. The lost streets over this side of Walton Breck sacrificed to the public square stretching through to Stanley Park that will be a vending area on match days. And the collateral damage done by the Housing Market Renewal ‘Pathfinder’ on the other side of the road. The lost V-streets, waiting to be a car park for the new Stand.

And The Poppies of Granton Road. The Road lost and not built on for years now.

And The Poppies of Granton Road. The Road lost and not built on for years now.

A friend Elaine Cresswell is a landscape architect and is very interested in these poppies. Apparently they pop up wherever something is demolished in this part of Anfield and Everton. Suggesting that they may have lain dormant under the houses for all the time the houses were here. And may therefore be Victorian or earlier poppy seeds from when this was known as Ann’s Field. There’ll probably be a walk based on it all soon.

Anyway, back to today’s walk.

We walk up the hill of St Donimgo. The borderline between the old and new.

We walk up the hill of St Domingo. The borderline between the old and new.

Me pointing out the sights as we go. The brick windows?

Me pointing out the sights as we go. The brick windows?

You can see the new stand through every gap.

You can see the new stand through every gap.

Then we reach Everton Library.

Then we reach Everton Library.

A gift from Andrew Carnegie and designed by Liverpool’s great libraries architect Thomas Shelmerdine. Closed these last decades, the latest attempt to revive it had estimated returning it to community use by autumn of this year.

But that's not going to happen is it?

But that’s not going to happen is it?

I’d be more than interested to know what is or might happen here though?

Then we walk over the brow at Everton to one of the best views in the city.

Liverpool .

Liverpool .

Me and the notice boards tell John and Michele the story of this place.

Me and the notice boards tell John and Michele the story of this place.

Where we can once again see the 18th century views of Everton’s rich founders.

Escaping west of the city their trading had filled up.

Escaping west of the city their trading had filled up.

Yet able to see their ships coming in to port.

Yet able to see their ships coming in to port.

Then go down and check their cargoes.

Then go down and check their cargoes.

Eventually the hills of Everton filled up with terraces and trades. And when I came to work up here in my municipal job, the place looked like this.

Terraces all replaced by tenements and tower blocks.

Terraces all replaced by tenements and tower blocks.

The monochrome photos I’m using here all by Dave Sinclair from his time as photographer for Militant. Published on here with his publisher’s permission.

A huge population lived here.

A huge population lived here.

Now very few blocks left, just open squares of their foundations like there at The Braddocks.

Now very few blocks left, just open squares of their foundations like there at The Braddocks.

And very few people in what's slowly becoming a real park.

And very few people in what’s slowly becoming a real park, with real Grass?

Park art place, walkways and balconies created from what remains of Netherfield Heights on the left there.

Park art wall, walkways and balconies created from what remains of Netherfield Heights on the left there.

Where I worked a couple of days each week in the Rent Office on the ground floor, early 1970s.

We walk down Roscommon Street.

We walk down Roscommon Street.

And cross Great Homer where Paddie's Market always was.

And cross Great Homer where Paddy’s Market always was.

We go into where it is now.

We go into where it is now.

I tell Michele and John that last time I was here they told me I wasn’t allowed to take photos on ‘private council land.’ We all laugh at this contradiction in terms.

As the bloke on the left there toys with the idea of telling me I can't take photos.

As the bloke on the left there by the cars toys with the idea of telling me I can’t take photos.

We go inside for a sit and a cup of tea.

We go inside for a sit and a cup of tea.

Michele also takes the opportunity to do some light shopping. Before demanding, getting and giving her on the spot approval to this lovely picture of them both!

John and Michele.

John and Michele.

We talk about life in London, life in Liverpool and what we write about. How John tries not to be London-centric but how it’s unavoidable, if you’re a writer, not  to write about where you are.

Then we cross Scotland Road to the day’s crescendo. To arguably (and I would argue) the greatest example of municipal housing ever built anywhere. Eldon Grove.

How it was.

How it was.

How it is.

How it is.

Now if you read this blog with any regularity you’ll know well that this is one of the main places in Liverpool that my heart beats for. So I won’t repeat myself today and report on the current plans, such as they are, to save and restore the place. I wrote about them earlier this year on ‘Walking to Rotunda’ and as  far as I know that’s still the state of things.

Today was more about introducing the place to one of its biggest champions, who had never actually seen it 'til today.

Today was more about introducing the place to one of its biggest champions, who had never actually seen it ’til today.

On 'Municipal Dreams' John has written as fine a piece of work about the early history of Liverpool's municipal housing as you could ever hope to read.

On ‘Municipal Dreams’ John has written as fine a piece of work about the early history of Liverpool’s municipal housing as you could ever hope to read.

It’s called Municipal Housing in Liverpool before 1914: the ‘first council houses in Europe’ and I hope you’ll go and read it after we finish this walk. But for now let’s continue our walk around lovely Eldon Grove.

Looking structurally ok for now, walls and chimneys good and straight. Loads of water access now though. so time is running out.

Looking structurally ok for now, walls and chimneys good and straight. Loads of water access now though. So time is running out.

Beautiful surviving iron work...

Beautiful surviving iron work…

All around it.

All around it.

Before having a look through the next good vantage point at the other end of the site fence we have a look at some other beautiful municipal housing built at the same time as the long empty Eldon Grove.

Burlington Street and Summer Seat.

Burlington Street and Summer Seat.

This close to Eldon Grove an fully occupied.

This close to Eldon Grove and fully occupied.

Look like they were probably done by the same architects and builders too?

Back in 1911. So not even as old as the terraced I'm sat writing in now,

Back in 1911. So not even as old as the terraced house I’m sat writing in now.

DSC03240 DSC03242So why are these all lived in and no one lives in Eldon Grove? Discuss, ad infinitum.

Back round to Eldon Grove.

Back round to Eldon Grove.

Beautiful from all angles.

Beautiful from all angles.

DSC03245 DSC03248 DSC03247John talks about the powerful effects of actually seeing the place.

Its beauty.

Its beauty.

Its fragility.

Its fragility.

And yet still its possibilities.

And yet still its possibilities.

Michele, John and Eldon Grove - Municipal Dreaming.

Michele, John and Eldon Grove – Municipal Dreaming.

With much looking back we walk on.

Past the tunnel at the rear of Summer Seat.

Past the tunnel at the rear of Summer Seat.

A big cause of the isolation of Eldon Grove these past 40 years. Many have simply forgotten it.

Through the edgelands of Bevington Bush.

Through the edgelands of Bevington Bush.

Breezeblocked student housing now encroaching.

Breezeblocked student housing now encroaching.

Under the flyovers that memorialise Liverpool's 'Streets in the Sky' Shankland plans of the 1950s and 60s.

Under the flyovers that memorialise Liverpool’s ‘Streets in the Sky’ Shankland plans of the 1950s and 60s.

To the end of our walk in Dale Street.

To the end of our walk in Dale Street.

John and Michele, Municipal Dreams - looking at Municipal Buildings!

John and Michele, Municipal Dreams – in front of Municipal Buildings!

Had to be done.

And I didn’t leave them there, of course I didn’t. Escorting them safely to a bus stop for the Cathedrals they were going to next, with family, my guiding done for the day.

So thank you both. A lovely morning walk to get the long weekend started. Lots more walking available next time you’re here?

One thought on “Walking with Municipal Dreams

  1. Maggie Wallace

    What is it with the attacks on Carnegie Libraries? My daughter now lives in Herne Hill, their one has just been decommissioned, people took it over when it closed.
    https://twitter.com/defendtheten
    My grandchildren will be affected by this library closure – apparently it will re-open with a gym included!!! But the Labour councillor who supported the library has just been excluded from the Labour Whip for the Council. Tastes too much of the Labour Party under Jo Anderson in Liverpool to me. Basically extension of take all you can get Tories, no care for their electorate. I spit on the lot of them.

    Reply

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