Queens Road Board School 1974
Harrison Jones Primary School, West Derby Street, 1979
St James Secondary Modern, Alfred Street/St James Road, 1977
It is no great surprise to me that my posts on lost schools have generated a high response. For most of us, our school days were the times when we made our first real friendships, had our minds stretched a bit and enjoyed (or endured) organised sport and other activities. Sad, therefore, that the places of such enduring memories have routinely been demolished, as is the case of the three schools featured above.
I have mentioned before the potential of a book about Liverpool’s schools – no more than a photograph and a potted history. Their history reflects the changing shifts in the city’s population. Inner city schools such as Harrison Jones and St James Secondary Modern lost their catchment area as the centre became depopulated in the 1960s and 70s. Built at a time when Liverpool’s population was over 750,000, they became redundant as it dropped to below 500,000.
The Board Schools are particularly interesting. To quote the internet: ‘Schools under the control of locally elected School Boards were made possible by the 1870 Education Act. Drafted by William Forster, Education Minister in the government headed by William Gladstone, the act stated that any area which voted for it could have a school board. These new board schools could charge fees but they were also eligible for government grants and could also be paid for out of local government rates.
Boards provided an education for the five to ten age group. In some areas, board school pioneered new educational ideas. For example, the London School Board introduced separate classrooms for each age group, a central hall for whole-school activities and specialist rooms for practical activities. In Bradford, Fred Jowett and Margaret McMillan pioneered the idea of free school meals for working-class children and, in Brighton, Catherine Ricketts developed the idea of increasing attendance rates by hiring women to visit mothers in their homes to explain the benefits of education. School boards came to an end with the passing of the 1902 Education Act.’
Liverpool had many board schools but, sadly, most of them, like Queens Road Board School above, have been demolished – the latest being Beaufort Street Board School only a few years ago.
A turn of the century photograph of the now demolished Aigburth Vale High School. It was demolished in the 1990s and the land used to build upmarket flats. Not a great deal of fuss was made at the time – mainly because the site was no longer green belt. The finished flats do not diminish the approach to Sefton Park, in my opinion, although former pupils of the school must be saddened to have important memories of their lives removed.
The proposal to develop Sefton Park Meadows just up the Drive are an entirely different matter. Mayor Joe Anderson had decided that the short term gain of a few million pound from developers is more important than the large triangle of land that most people have always taken for granted as part of Sefton Park, albeit on the other side of the road. I have constantly commented on how the city’s heritage is being chipped away piece by piece. As each piece disappears, it become easier to remove the next. There have been, as yet unfounded, rumours that the municipal golf course at Allerton is being eyed at for a similar sell off.
What next? Money might be tight but removing green space is a dangerous precedent. I notice there is an action campaign. I urge all right thinking people to get involved: http://saveseftonparkmeadows.blogspot.co.uk
Lodge Lane is going through a slow but noticeable revival. I have taken to buying my fruit and vegetables from the prospering International Stores – which lives up to its name serving a mainly immigrant community with foods from across the globe. Definitely worth a visit if you want an alternative to Tesco or Asda.
Today’s photograph, courtesy of Colin Weekes, is of Anakin’s Potato Stores, on the corner of Eden Street and Lodge Lane. In 1910, George William Anakin owned a small chain of shops in the area (Earle Road, Smithdown Road and Dudley Road). A Charles Anakin (brother or son? owned a similar small chain around West Derby Road). Eden Street was on the left hand side travelling from Ullet Road towards Smithdown Road (between Windsor View and Solway Street). The shop has a peeling sign on its other window advertising the shop as a fruit market. It must have been a hefty task to move all the baskets in and out of the shop every day but the three staff are all smiling for the camera.
I was reading a book written by Kurt Hutton, a German photographer who fled the Nazis and established himself in Britain as one of the great photojournalists on Picture Post magazine. He wrote that ‘a street is never of great interest to me if it does not show people who live in it. They are the essential thing. Perhaps for an architectural journal the case is different; but even here, to me the point seems to be that the street has been built, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the human beings who inhabit it.’ I couldn’t agree more – today’s photograph would be far less interesting without the three shop girls.
No doubt, in a hundred years time, people will look at photographs of the International Stores, with its food piled high outside, in a similar fascinated way.