Three more images from Rob Bremner’s forthcoming book The Dash Between. The hardback book will feature some 150 of Rob’s photographs – colour and black and white. First we have to raise the funding – so take a look at the Kickstarter project. All support is greatly appreciated: goo.gl/gb3b69

Three more images from Rob Bremner’s forthcoming book. Rob’s photographs were taken over the 1980s and 90s – mainly around Vauxhall and Everton but also in New Brighton, Pier Head and elsewhere in Liverpool. They make a remarkable and powerful statement about the city at that time. To raise the necessary funds, Bluecoat Press are running a Kickstarter project over the next three weeks. If you like the work and want to see the book happen (it won’t if the funding target is not met), please check out the campaign and see more of Rob’s brilliant images. goo.gl/gb3b69

Here are three images from Rob Bremner’s forthcoming book The Dash Between. Rob spent over ten years in the 1980s and 90s photographing the people and landscape of Liverpool, mainly around Vauxhall and Everton. The photographs are full of warmth and are an important record of people’s lives. The often harsh background belies the humanity and good humour of the people Rob photographed.
I have started a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to publish Rob’s brilliant work. Click on the link and see more of his work (and support it if you can): goo.gl/gb3b69

The Dash Between

The photographs are typical family snapshots – not particularly sharp or well-composed. They do tell a story – and an important one. The date is 1932 and there is a caption: New Boating Jetty. Over 80 years later, the lake is still there and the trees are considerably bigger. I am not sure when the boats were taken away. I have a half-memory of them being there in the 1970s (along with Sefton Park) but I could be mistaken.
What is undisputed is the place Liverpool parks hold in the hearts of all who visit them. One of the great achievements of the Victorian era was the great legacy of Sefton Park, Newsham Park and Stanley Park – all created within a few years of each other in the late 1860s/early 1870s. Over the next half century, they were added to as country estates, like Calderstones, were purchased and added to the city’s estate.
The parks were always seen as the lungs of the growing city and the belt of parkland across South Liverpool, in particular, is one of the finest in Europe. Surprisingly, Liverpool ranks only 10th amongst British cities for green space. The list is:

10 Liverpool 16.4%
9 Bradford 18.4%
8 Manchester 20.4%
7 Leeds 21.7%
6 Sheffield 22.1%
5 Greater London 23.0%
4 Birmingham 24.6%
3 Bristol 29.0%
2 Glasgow 32.0%
1 Edinburgh 49.2%

So what does Liverpool Council do? Give planning permission for housing to be built on our parks and green belt – Sefton Meadows then Calderstones Park. Allerton Priory has already gone – a private estate that the Council let go without a fight. Where next: Allerton Towers?

We must fight this attack on our parks – they were left for us and we must leave them intact for our children and grandchildren. They should be sacrosanct and not open to devious manoeuvres to reclassify as brownfield sites. We can all help. There is a petition everyone should sign and there is a fund being raised towards a judicial review. Click on the link and join the 26,000 (at the time of writing) and sign up:

goo.gl/9tU9LX

Save Calderstones Park

Over many years of collecting, I have built up an archive of thousands of Liverpool photographs – from the 1850s up to recent years. My blog started because I believe these images should be shared. I hate the idea of boxes of photographs gathering dust, unseen and unloved. They should be brought out into the open so that everyone can add to their understanding of our city’s history.
My particular interests are in the candid photographs that started to appear in the 1890s as camera and film technology improved, gradually broadening the take-up of photography from the wealthy to the average worker. It is this shift – when the lens focused on street life – that is particularly interesting. We can learn a lot from examining such photographs: why they were taken, what is represented in the image and so on.
Today’s photograph fits these criteria perfectly. It is probably a commissioned photograph of proud business owner, John Bousfield, outside his dairy in Albert Street. His sign advertises his trade as Cow Keeper. To ensure that milk was delivered fresh, the answer was keep the cows locally. In cities and large towns there would be numerous cow-keepers each owning one or two cows. The cows would be milked early in the morning then driven to a stretch of common land where they would graze during the day and be driven home in the afternoon in time for milking again. Where John Bousfield kept his cows is not known but this was in the early 1890s and Liverpool was still confined within a relatively tight boundary.
The street is Albert Street – presumably named after the Prince Consort. Surprisingly, for its name, it is a rather mean street off Paddington (where the whole area is being comprehensively developed) leading to a plot of railway land (did he keep his cows there?).

I

My 1887 Gore’s Street Directory lists him and he was still there in 1893. By 1910, however, Thomas Mudd had taken over the business. The photograph was taken by WH Glassey, whose business was in nearby Smithdown Lane. Clearly John Bousfield was proud of the business he had build up with a visible staff of seven – all smartly dressed. Another piece of Liverpool’s ‘lost’ history preserved on a small cabinet card.

Back in business after a long absence.

Today’s post was prompted by the launch last week of a photographic exhibition in New Brighton of the 1980s work of Martin Parr, Tom Wood and Ken Grant. All have established themselves as internationally important photographers in the intervening years and the exhibition – at The Old Sailing School in the resort – should not be missed.

Photography and New Brighton have a long association and the image of a beach photographer harks back to a time when only the wealthy possessed cameras. For the great majority, a portrait taken in either a high street studio or ‘pop-up’ location like a beach resort was the only opportunity to own an inexpensive portrait of oneself or friend/family member. The results were inevitably variable in quality where a high turnover was more important than creativity. The service was hugely popular,though, and millions of the small ‘carte de visites’ were taken between the 1850s and early 1900s. Anyone with an interest in family history will no doubt have surviving photographs of long-gone family members (with the name of the photographer prominently advertised on the front and back).

Of incidental interest, to the right of the photographer’s tent is a rather intimidating ‘hit the bell’ tower, with two large mallets nearby. No doubt a strongman was employed to show it could be done with the intention of attracting the ‘macho’ elements in a watching crowd who wanted to show off to their friends/girlfriends – usually with little luck.

Last Sunday I took a couple of visitors around Liverpool, stopping at Pier Head for a short walk around.
The place was packed, a fair was in full swing and there was a great atmosphere – perhaps lacking the ferries so evident in the photograph but reminiscent of its Victorian heyday when it was the place to go for a promenade and to observe the shipping. (Until the 1980s, most of the docks were out of bounds and Pier Head was the only public point of access to the river).

Pier Head was also a favourite place for the Victorian commercial photographer. Crowds and boats were guaranteed particularly on a fine sunny day (the photograph was taken close to midday judging by the shadows). The detail is fascinating; it might be summer but most of the women are dressed in heavy black full length dresses apart from the two standing out in white. The ferries are full and, in the foreground, two boys are playing.

I am guessing the photograph was taken in the early 1890s. It is surprising to see so many sail ships
lined up on the right – these were their last years. The river is Liverpool’s greatest asset – no other city has such a magnificent stage. So much more can be done to enhance it – the modern buildings are uninspiring, particularly when set against the Royal Liver, Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings. Somewhere along the years, that confidence has been lost – epitomised by the fiasco of the Fourth Grace and the subsequent Mann Island development. The city deserves better.

Commutation Row c1975

Hare and Hounds c1975

It is hard to believe that Commutation Row was removed little more than a decade ago for an office block that has struggled to find a tenant since its previous occupant, a housing association, moved out.

What a shocking piece of vandalism. No doubt the lack of uniformity of the Victorian facades insulted those who prefer uniformity and blandness but I loved the fact that each building had a different face – unified only by keeping to the same height line (more or less). Look at any photograph from the 1880s onwards and there they are – a historic part of the city’s fabric. Just like the Lime Street facades further down – something important is lost each time the developers move in.

Amongst the losses on Commutation Row were three interesting pubs. The County on the corner of Islington, the Hare and Hounds (in the middle) and the Court House, a few doors to the right. Three traditional pubs with interesting interiors – all part of the social history that the public house represented.

Interior of The County

Fortunately, Bob Thurlow, founder of Merseyside CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), decided to write about the rapidly disappearing city centre pubs back in the mid-1970s. Even more fortunately, he commissioned David Wrightson (the photographer of much of Quentin Hughes’ Seaport) to photographs the pubs and their interiors. Even more fortunately, Bluecoat Press is publishing their work in a new book Inn Liverpool due out in early December. More to follow in the next post.

Roseberry Street, L8

Mozart Street outing to Ainsdale

Haigh Heights, Haigh Street, Everton

Three more powerful images from the forthcoming book Like You’ve Never Been Away by Paul Trevor. Paul was here in the mid-1970s and is back in Liverpool finishing of a film that brings the story up to date. He has contacted children in the photographs – now in their 50s – and has interviewed them about their lives to date.
There is still a week left to back the Kickstarter campaign to fund the book (a limited edition – of 500 – hardback, signed by Paul): goo.gl/e3Rj4a

Crosbie Heights

Haigh Heights

Two more images from Paul Trevor’s upcoming book about childhood in Liverpool in the 1970s. This is a new hardback version (in landscape format). It is running as a crowdfunding project this month to raise the funds to publish it. We are well on the way but if you are interested in supporting the book,click through to Kickstarter: goo.gl/e3Rj4a