The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey

On Saturday mornings, when I’m content with the week’s work done, I like to walk around the neighbourhood more or less pointlessly. Sometimes the walk involves a sit and a read in a café then some food shopping, sometimes LPs. Today it was books. Restocking my shelf of coming soon novels from both the local library and the local Oxfam. While I was in Oxfam I also found this old map of Birkenhead and sat down for a good look at it and the stories it contains.

Like the story of the major line railway station which was running six trains a day from Birkenhead to London until the late 1960s? Read on.

Continue reading “The Old Map: Birkenhead and Wallasey”

Liverpool Autumnal

A very long circular walk in autumn. Including a great number of beautiful leaves, Boaty MacBoatface being built, finding out the price of a pair of jeans and an update on progress at  The Welsh Streets. Good value I’d say.
dsc06840When I set off walking on this day, the last Sunday in October 2016, I didn’t know exactly where I was going. But I knew it would be a long and autumnal walk.

Round the lake in Greenbank Park.
Round the lake in Greenbank Park.
A gorgeous golden day.
A gorgeous golden day.
Eleanor Rathbone's house finally being worked on.
Eleanor Rathbone’s house finally being worked on.
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Along Greenbank Lane.

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On my holidays: At the Pier Head

Running about
Wonderful photograph of exactly how it felt, by Joe Neary.

Well the Pier Head’s bigger than it used to be when we’d come here for days out like this in the 1960s (wonderful photograph of exactly how it felt by Joe Neary). Back then the Albert Dock was behind a big wall and went completely unnoticed by me until its renovation in the mid 1980s.

Here we are.
Here we are, 1965.
Bus station in front of the Liver Buildings.
Bus station in front of the Liver Buildings.
With children.
With children from earlier in the century.
And more recently.
And more recently.
And the rest of the place has only recently gone.
The rest of the place has relatively recently gone.
So
So here I am today in 2016, on holiday at the bigger Pier Head.

Continue reading “On my holidays: At the Pier Head”

Wandering About: Down to the River

Aimlessly 3 - 52
A day of reflections.

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.

Out across the Mystery.
Out across the Mystery.

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.

The inbound London train crosses a 79D bus on Picton Road.
The inbound London train crosses a 79D bus on Picton Road.

Continue reading “Wandering About: Down to the River”

The Winter Trees

Winter trees - 22The day before this walk we’d all watched in horror as much of the north of England was flooded after days of the heavy rain we’re becoming used to as our climate changes. Thinking about this and after my standard but understandable rant about our useless govermnent, it’s failures on climate change and its fawning over backwards to moneyed interests, I remembered something George Monbiot has written about many times over the past few years, the importance of reforresting our uplands, the importance of trees and their contribution to slowing down the speed with which our denuded sheep farming hills flash off the rainwater which is then sent gushing down into the streets of Appleby, of Whalley, of York, of Hebden Bridge, of Mytholmroyd and then turn the Kirkstall Road in Leeds into a new river.

Anyway, and fortunately for us all up here, today dawned bright, dry and blue so Sarah and I went out for a walk around our relatively dry neighbourhood in Liverpool.

Along Penny Lane.
Along Penny Lane.
Past Eleanor Rathbone's house.
Past Eleanor Rathbone’s house.

Continue reading “The Winter Trees”

‘I was there’ – My time on the Docks, Part 2

North Docks01

The second guest post from blog reader John Viggars today.

A few weeks ago when photographer Tricia Porter graciously let me publish her 1970s ‘South Docks’ collection on here, one of the first comments on Twitter came from regular blog reader John Viggars who immediately said that most magical of all historical story phrases ‘I was there.’ He went on to mention he had some photos of his own from his days sailing in and out of our dying South Docks.

Well we had a good look at those and heard some of John’s stories about life in the South Docks in those days a week or so back. Today, in Part 2, John has some more South Docks memories, but first turns his attentions to the North Docks in the 1980s.

Venturing into the North Docks.North Docks02 

“I can’t remember who told me about the Dock Board photo pass but I’m glad they did as when I found myself without work a couple of times in those tough periods in the early 80’s it gave me somewhere of interest to go. I didn’t always take photos, I just went get some fresh air in my lungs, watching  the traffic passing through the locks. Gladstone & Langton were still busy but as you worked your way through the system towards town the vista changed.  I remembered how the South Docks had felt a few years before as this area was also on the wind down. Continue reading “‘I was there’ – My time on the Docks, Part 2”

10k Sunday: A walking version of a run

Noticing the unkempt state of the former Garden Festival site towards the end of this November 2014) walk, you may well be glad to hear the whole site, including the unbuilt housing bit has now been bought from the non-developers by Liverpool City Council (June 2015) with plans to make better use of the place than at any time in the last 30 years. At last.

This is a favourite route of mine as a run. But it’s also a good walk. And since runs are tricky to photograph decently me and my camera set off to walk this particular 10k today. A sunny Sunday and the last day of November.

Along Crawford Avenue.
Along Crawford Avenue.
And up the hill over the railway at Penny Lane.
And up the hill over the railway at Penny Lane.
Down the other side.
Down the other side.
Past one of the two houses round here where the great feminist and politician Eleanor Rathbone used to live.
Past one of the two houses round here where the great feminist and politician Eleanor Rathbone used to live.

It’s now become part of a ‘Spire’ private clinic where, strangely, I was recently given NHS treatment when my left ear went deaf. A bizarre and unsettling experience getting state care in a place full of cosmetic surgery adverts. Continue reading “10k Sunday: A walking version of a run”

Wallasey: A Tale of Two Libraries

Having been keeping a very careful eye on Liverpool’s libraries over the past few months, I decided I go and see how our neighbours are getting on with their’s over the water in Wallasey.Wallasey24I don’t know Wallasey very well at all. I know New Brighton, which is part of it, and was last there a few weeks ago, but to get to know as much of the rest as I reasonably can in an afternoon I decide to walk around, almost aimlessly, other than knowing I’ll try and find a couple of libraries in the course of my wandering.

I think walking is the only way to really get to know a place. To see it and feel it and work out how it fits together and how it’s doing. So let’s go.

But I can't walk on water, so have to walk through town first.
But I can’t walk on water, so have to walk through town first.
Then get on a bus, the 437.
Then get on a bus, the 437.
And through the tunnel to Wallasey.
And go through the tunnel to Wallasey.

Continue reading “Wallasey: A Tale of Two Libraries”

Back to the Future: Liverpool 1948

Back to the future01I don’t, on the whole buy books. We have splendid public libraries here in Liverpool and I’ve spent all of my life steadily reading my way through them. Knowing that by the time my life comes to its end there will still be many thousands of books, more than could be fitted into a typical Liverpool terraced house like the one I live in, that I still won’t have got round to.

The only regular exception to this non-purchasing policy I’ve made over the years is when the books are about Liverpool. I don’t mean those ‘Wasn’t life quaint in the past?’ picture-books that seem to get produced about everywhere. I mean books like the one I’m going to show you today. Interesting, quirky even and found, as often as not in second-hand shops.

Let’s go back to Liverpool in 1948.

The Water Front, Liverpool, 1948 - by Gordon Hemm.
The Water Front, Liverpool, 1948 – by Gordon Hemm.

The Cathedral is still far from finished and the river is busy with traffic. An apparently idyllic scene. Except of course that we’re three years after the end of the second great war of the 20th century and much of Liverpool is in ruins. Continue reading “Back to the Future: Liverpool 1948”

Our day out: Widnes & Runcorn

Since we walked along the bank of the Mersey to Widnes last November we’ve been promising ourselves a return visit to get a better look at the place than we could on such a short early winter day. Being midsummer and being so sunny we couldn’t have had a better day than today to do so.

Sarah’s also written her own impressions of the day on her Monkey Puzzles blog.

Sarah on Widnes Dock Gates.
Sarah on Widnes Dock Gates.

Close as it is to Liverpool neither of us is familiar with any more of Widnes than the river frontage we walked to in November. So we begin today by looking for the town centre.

We follow the signs and are directed to here.
We follow the signs and are directed to here.
This turns out to be a 1995 version of a town centre.
This turns out to be a 1995 version of a town centre.

Built to look like the Victorian Arcade it clearly isn’t. Continue reading “Our day out: Widnes & Runcorn”