February, 2011 Archives

Here is my final image from Paul Trevor’s forthcoming exhibition at The Walker in May. Again the area is Upper Parliament Street but can anyone be more specific with the location?

All the images shown and many more will be in Paul’s exhibition and in the accompanying book Bluecoat Press are publishing (Like You’ve Never Been Away).

This is the third of Paul Trevor’s photographs I am trying to locate. Looking at the second frame, taken at the same time, it is clear that the cleared site is near to Princes Road with the spire of the Welsh Presbyterian prominent in the background but can anyone pinpoint the road running behind the boys (who were probably in for a few sharp words when they went home looking at the state of their clothes).

Following my last post, here is another of Paul Trevor’s problem images. The boy was photographed in a Chinese takeaway. The top photograph is the exhibition print. The bottom photograph is a frame taken at the same time. In the window, there is the reflection of a tenement block – but which one? A difficult one because there is a lack of definition but, hopefully, someone will recognise both the boy and where the takeway was.

In 1975, Paul Trevor came to Liverpool as a member of the Exit Photography Group who were documenting the state of Britain’s inner cities. Their fascinating record was published in a book Survival Programmes and the photographs were a stark reminder of the desperate deprivation that still blighted most of Britain’s cities.
Now, over 35 years later, Paul’s work is to exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in May (for six months) and I am publishing some 50+ images in a book Like You’ve Never Been Away, which will coincide with the exhibition. The photographs are outstanding, a fantastic record of Liverpool’s relatively recent history.
However, Paul’s work has not been completed. He has returned to Liverpool to re-photograph as many of the people (mainly children) in the photographs he took at the time with the intention of a follow-up exhibition (and book). For this, he needs some help. He has already identified many of the people and locations from 1975 but has a few outstanding photographs he needs help with. The top photograph is to appear in the exhibition and the frame below is one he took at the same location. Paul thinks it is Lowther Street at its junction with Sandon Street. Most of the buildings in the area have been demolished since the photograph but can anyone confirm the location and also put names to the faces?
I will post further images in the next few days.

Not the sharpest photograph in my collection but a fascinating one, nevertheless, of the dock railway’s final days in 1962.
In an earlier blog (April 28th, last year), I posted another photograph of the dock line, which ran underneath the Overhead Railway. By 1962, the Overhead had been dismantled, leaving the line below exposed and quite clearly in the way of future plans to modernise the road. What an amazing sight it must have been – a steam engine being led along one of the city’s main thoroughfares by a man with a flag.

I have too few photographs of many suburban areas. The ‘Golden Age’ of postcards, at the turn of the twentieth century was a time when commercial photographers would trawl the streets for customers who would pay for small runs of real photographic postcards of their business, home and family. This view of Lawrence Road is one such postcard, which could be sold to any of the shops shown. The campanile of St Bridget’s church is to the left (a very interesting interior if you can get access – one of the city’s hidden gems) and the bakers shop of Walter Moore can be seen on the corner of Portman Road. The shops in view are a typical good mix of the times. On the far corner is James Hanson (dairy), a sub-post office, John Hughes (grocer), William Johnson (fishmonger), Daniel Higgin (butcher) and William Hargreaves (greengrocer). Just one small stretch of the road and all the basics provided for. It must have been a profitable area because Hargreaves had another shop two blocks further on, at the corner of Bagot Street. Lawrence Road must have been a thriving centre, in spite of being relatively close to the city centre. Other shops included a drapers, bookseller, tobacconist, shoe and boot dealer, stationers and chandlers.
How different from today with the almost unstoppable spread of the supermarket. I cannot imagine there is much money in selling postcards of Asda or Tesco.

I have tried to avoid using Liverpool City Engineer’s Department photographs because one of the main objectives of this blog is to present previously unpublished photographs. In this instance, I was prompted by Christine Legge, who emailed requesting any photographs of Princes Walk, which was off Great Howard Street. I get many requests and I am constantly looking for the appropriate images. In many cases, particularly courts and back streets, it is not possible to find any photographs – although I will continue to look.
With the slum areas, the City Engineer’s collection is the most likely source. Not many photographers wandered into such areas unless they had good reason. The function of the City Engineer’s Photography Department was to document its work including insanitary housing, road improvements, slum clearance, installation of sewers and other major works. The Department started taking photographs in 1898 and survived until 1998 before being dismantled. Its output was fairly consistent although a considerable number of photographs were taken in the 1930s to document the slum clearances (which led to the building of tenements such as Gerard Gardens, Kent Gardens and Caryl Gardens).
The photograph of Burlington is one of my favourites. It is such a poignant image. The boy is in an open doorway, obviously an occupied house in spite of the shutters and broken window. The Supper Bar has a peeling poster advertising a dance at the Grafton on September 29th at 1/6d admission. This is poverty 1930s style. It seems hard to believe but all the children could be alive and in their 80s.

The Barracks, 1934 (courtesy Liverpool Record Office).

1881 Map

The history of West Derby is a bit outside of my comfort zone. The parish of West Derby was, I believe, once the largest in England, stretching almost as far as Preston. Its history goes back to Viking times (its name deriving from deor (deer) and by (village) – village with deer. The West was added later to distinguish it from Derby in Derbyshire). Mentioned in the Domesday Book, it had a wooden castle and royal hunting forest. An important administrative centre, its Courthouse still stands as the only freestanding post-medieval courthouse in Britain (it is the single-storey building on the left opposite the omnibus).
The photograph is interesting because it shows the village as it was making the transition from rural backwater to a commuter suburb for Liverpool merchants. Lord Sefton had set the tone by building the Church of St Mary as a grand entrance to Croxteth Park estate (just out of the photo behind the three boys). On the corner is a public house licensed to Phoebe Spencer, with a butchers run by Thomas Spencer. The pub’s name is difficult to decipher although the second word is Arms. Next door is a greengrocers, with the Tramway office and stables next to the Courthouse. The building just beyond, separated by an alley, is the Hare and Hounds Hotel.
The alley led to a small army barracks which was considered too small and eventually turned over to house a mix of local labourers and their families before being demolished soon after the photograph was taken in 1934. (The Barracks are marked on the 1881 as the two facing blocks just above the join in the map).The army moved to Deysbrook Barracks.
The village in 1887 had an interesting mix of saddlers, cowmen, gardeners and other small tradesmen and stockbrokers, cotton merchants, solicitors and surgeons. By 1910, the mix had changed again. The pub had become Walter Kerslake’s cycle manufacturers. Interestingly, the merchants, surgeons and ‘gentlemen’ (as men of independent means were called) are conspicuous by their absence – although nearby Hayman’s Green still maintained its ‘character’. Within twenty years, the urban sprawl had almost overwhelmed West Derby, although it still retains a village character at its centre. So much can change in a short time in the urban cycle.

Here is another previously unpublished photograph of Lark Lane in 1893. The horse-drawn omnibus is advertising the Liverpool Overhead Railway, which had commenced services in January of that year. The shops behind the omnibus are William Truesdale (grocer), Elizabeth Handley (tobacconist) and, on the right of Truesdale, Arnold Thomas (glass and china dealer) and the Wesleyan Chapel.
Back then, Lark Lane had a good mix of shops including bakers, shoe and boot manufacturers, a stationers, a saddler, milliner, fish and game dealer, grocers, butcher etc.
Sadly, like many similar suburban shopping streets, the diversity has gone; in Lark Lane’s case to be replaced by bars and restaurants. Perhaps with the ever-increasing cost of transport, people will look towards local areas more favourably, although the relentless spread of supermarkets has probably seen off all but a few specialists. How many more Tesco’s can South Liverpool take? Should we care? I think the list of trades in 1893 and the skills they represented says we should. Why can’t we turn back the clock and recreate suburban centres of specialist retailers who care about serving their community.