Early in May this year writer and journalist Lynsey Hanley, together with a producer from BBC Radio 4 came and interviewed me for a series of programmes they were planning about the history of social housing. I was glad to do this as Liverpool had a significant role in the early development of council housing.
It doesn’t look like that early on this March afternoon as I arrive in Blackpool.
But it’s still so very Blackpool though. Even on a damp Tuesday afternoon. Full of the memories of coming here all my life. Early days on the X61 Ribble Bus, before the 1965 blue Cortina arrived to bring us all here in style. Later still all of us from the Corpy Housing Department coming to ‘see the lights’ on a fleet of Corpy buses. Messing about in the Fun House then getting ourselves tucked into a very large pub and taking no notice of the illuminations at all. Golden days! Continue reading “In Blackpool: On The Left Coast”
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?
Having walked a fair bit of North Liverpool then South Liverpool in the last two days it didn’t take a genius or even me to work out today’s ‘Walking About’ route, the middle. Roughly from here in Wavertree, through L7 and L1 to the River. Let’s go.
Reflecting as I start out on a third walk in three days that there are some times when I need a lot of time on my own. Not in a melancholy way, but I don’t want to be inside and I have an elemental need to walk, alone.
Or ‘Seaport: A Life in a Book’This book came out originally in 1964 when I was ten years old. And though I had my adult-side library ticket by then it must have been a reference only book, as I have no memory of bringing it home. Instead I would sit in the North Liverpool library of my childhood and pore over it for hours. Fascinated by such a gorgeous book about the place that, even then, I considered myself lucky to have been born in. Much of which I hadn’t yet seen. My Liverpool was a Ribble bus to County Road and Stanley Park, near where I’d first lived, or all the way into town, with occasional rides on the ferry, back and forth, back and forth.
My parents, having lived through the war years in Vauxhall and Bootle next to the decimated docks, had been glad to move their little family out to the new northern suburbs where everything was new and life could only get better. And Maghull back then was a fascinating place to grow up in. Between our house and the library there was still a farm where you could watch the great big sow suckling her piglets. And the surrounding streets as they got built filled up with footballers from Everton and Liverpool who we would constantly pester for autographs. But also, of course, by 1964 the Beatles were among us and together with this book only added to my fasciation with the place I was actually from, my Liverpool.
So I would sit there in Maghull branch library, gazing at places I hadn’t yet seen and dreaming of finding them. Then over the decades that came I would find the book occasionally in the Liverpool libraries I by then lived near, and notice that in a way, the book and those early dreams were shaping my life.
Eventually a copy of the 1993 reprint of the book entered my life. The father of my partner Sarah, Frank Horton, was dying of lung cancer. And having seen how often I would look through ‘Seaport’ while visiting him, tenderly passed the book over to me, saying “I think it’ll be more use to you than me now.”
Leaving the house today with my walking boots on I don’t, as so often, know where I’m going. But walking down the road I decide I’ll get on the first bus that comes, get off it as soon as I see something interesting, and start meandering round from there.
I’m in luck, the bus is the 76. A curious beast that meanders almost all the way around the circumference of the city centre before finally giving in and turning down London Road. I’m not on it until then though because I see this.
I get off at the next stop for a closer look. Turns out it’s to be ‘Liverpool’s Bio Tech Hub.’ So there, another hub. I must say I’m getting very tired of the word, already turning old as an early century affectation for where we’d have merely called something a ‘centre’ or even plain old ‘building.’ Oh well, no doubt some mover-shaker go-getter with very long pointed shoes got paid a packet to come up with the term.
A brisk, bright but very cold day for a walk into town to do some record shopping. ‘The temperature will feel like zero’ Sarah helpfully tells me. Passing on the information from her phone which often gives her comedy weather forecasts seemingly gathered by someone looking out of a window.
Undeterred I go out anyway.
Not been to Onion for a while. Too early for lunch today though.
Eventually answering some of the market trader’s and residents complaints below, on 31st January 2015 Liverpool City council announced plans to expand the new Greatie site to create extra parking and space for more traders. Today Liverpool’s oldest and largest street market moved into its new home. So I decided to go on a circular walk which would include a housewarming visit to the new Greatie.