It feels like ages since I’ve done this. Spent a whole day walking round Liverpool for the sheer love, joy and appreciation of doing it. Visiting some favourite places, seeing some favourite people and, all in all, having one perfect day.
With occasional observations. Let’s go.
I was with a friend who’s recently come to live here and has been getting to know the city, with occasional suggestions from me. One of which was to take the basic introductory tour right round it on the 27 bus. Then yesterday we took the secondary introductory tour, on the 68 bus through Old Swan and Tuebrook, getting off to begin the day’s walking along County Road.
Which was quiet, maybe because it was still relatively early morning? But a bit quiet nonetheless for a shopping street on a Thursday? These are only one day’s observations, but I like County Road. When I was young it was where ‘going to the shops’ meant.
We crossed over at the lights by the Black Horse and noticed this awful building on the Church Road West corner. It’s never been beautiful but has had a life as a functional trade union building, USDAW I think. But now it looks like it’s been turned into ‘residential with would-be retail on the ground-floor.’ The result, I’m guessing, of a governmental relaxation of planning regulations, allowing property exploiters to exploit anything?
Well anyway it looks awful. And empty retail is the last thing anyone needs along here, I’d suggest.
This was great. I’ve been walking past the old school building by Walton Church for most of my life but never seen its doors open, until yesterday. So we went in.
The two women, one of them a church warden, who we met were having a clearout. But stopped work for a few minutes to tell us both about what happens here. Table sales, a foodbank, regular lunches and social events for local people, more than a few of them asylum seekers they said.
A wonderful place, well done all.
Outside in the old graveyard the spring bluebells were just showing off.
Through to Walton Village next.
I was born in Walton and moved back here from the northern suburbs as soon as I could. So this is one of my homeplaces.
The glorious terrace where my friend Pete Growcoot lived. The shops, less of them now but hey ‘Rainbow Shakes!’ The old dairy on Elm Road, and my first flat at 27 Church Road.
Round into City Road, all looking well along there. Another of the houses being worked on as we passed, after the one a group of us turned back into a home a couple of years ago. Clare, Ami, Andrew, Max, Jayne and me, plus Steve and everyone from Penny Lane Builders. Well done all, well done Coming Home.
Up over the railway bridge and along the rest of City Road towards Goodison.
A neighbourhood of terraced streets that culminates in its football ground. Thousands of people living around the place Everton FC are planning to leave.
This is where I’m from.
Diana Street, right up against the ground. Baby memories of thousands of feet stomping past to the ground every other Saturday, of learning to walk and ride my bike and thinking all the players lived in there.
The worry of what here will feel like when it’s gone?
Gillian who’s on the walk with me photographing Diana Street there. Next day she emails me this link to the works of “Archibald Leitch: The man who built Britain’s football grounds.”
I’d never heard of him, but he designed much of Goodison Park, here, for Everton. And also, takes deep breath, large parts of Anfield, White Hart Lane, Ibrox Park, VillaPark, Craven Cottage and some parts of other inner city grounds around England and Scotland. A good few of which might’ve had their day now.
About which many another blog post could be written.
But stood in Diana Street yesterday I worried about Goodison and its place. How old it’s looking but how fundamental a part of here it is. Trusting and hoping that its passing will be handled very, very carefully. And that when it’s gone the people of Walton will be able to say they’re fine with it. That the city council and the football club were great. And that whatever eventually happens will be really good for here and for all the people of the place. The people who live here.
We crossed over Walton Lane to the park.
Which I thought was looking really well. Beautifully cared for and a credit to the city. More to the point Gillian thought so too, and she’d never been here before.
Well done all the gardeners and the local people who help, including Gemma, Rachael and loads of people I don’t know. But credit to the ones I do.
Then we walked up Anfield Road and round the LFC ground, over to Walton Breck Road. And I did talk Gillian through the basic details of what had happened here over the past thirty years or so, with the football club’s prevarications, the Housing Market Renewal Initiative and so many families losing their homes. But I’ve written about the injustice of all that on here before.
So let’s move on to where we went next. One unquestionably magnificent result of all that, and to the entire credit of the people of Anfield and Everton. To Homebaked, where we had our lunch.
And we heard about the Community Land Trust’s plans for the row of empty houses next to the bakery, looked through the plans too with Britt, just back from Kitty’s Launderette board. Said hello to Catherine, the textile artist who’d made those cushions in the CLT office. Then talked with Angela and Sally-Anne about how well the café’s doing and the BBC coming the next day, because they’re up for a BBC Food Award. And the place was busy with comings and goings, like always.
We said hello to Pat and Sam from Homegrown Collective, passing through to a meeting of their own. And Grace from Kitty’s Launderette, in to pick up some lunch.
Feeling like we were at the centre of a lot of good things.
Then we followed Grace along Oakfield Road to meet her and Ehsan, working at Kitty’s yesterday with Fred from Raising the Ralla on, well, getting Kitty’s ready. Up to date news on how close it’s all getting there, here, from Grace herself. With lots of other credits for the workers, by hand and by brain, who have nearly turned this particular dream into a reality. Well done all.
Up the hill next, passing the still sad glory that is Everton Library. To the top of the City.
Liverpool: we live here.
Down Roscommon Street and across what’s left of Scotland Road. One more treasure to check on before our walk’s done.
And what by the way, in passing, is that awful apartment building just being finished where Woodstock Gardens used to stand? Were all the architects off work that day?
Anyway, we continued along Sylvester Street and left at Limekiln Lane to check on Eldon Grove.
Last time I’d been here a developer’s boards had been put up and I’d since heard the place had gone on site.
And by now it was mid-afternoon so maybe all the builders had gone home. Or maybe nothing’s happening at beautiful, listed, historic Eldon Grove once again?
The builder’s boards that used to say “coming soon in 2018” have been ripped down, scaffolding’s gone up on one of the three blocks, and the remaining roof tiles have been taken off. But it’s not looking much like a ‘live’ site is it?
We checked that Bevington Street and Summerseat, built just before Eldon Grove in 1911 are still ok, they are, and walked on.
Though the rain into town and down Dale Street towards the river.
Earlier in the day we’d talked about walking through to the North Docks as well, but at four o’clock, having been out since around half eight, we decided it was time to end our walking day with a sit and a cup of tea.
So Gillian introduced me to somewhere I’d not been before. A café called “A Small Fish in a Big Pond.” Situated splendidly in the basement of Oriel Chambers.
A prefect end to one perfect day. With friends and observations.
Liverpool: we live here.