January, 2014 Archives

St George’s Hill 1967

Terraces, Everton, 1969

Unknown street, Everton, 1969

Three more views photographed by Alan Swerdlow in the late 1960s. I hope I am right about the first view being of St George’s Hill – if not, I am sure I will be quickly corrected. The newly completed tower blocks only add to the bleakness of the view. They have since been demolished and Everton Park now fills the space. I have made my opinion known before about the disastrous effect of the way in which the post-War housing clearances were imposed upon Liverpool and I know most readers share my views. Perhaps the point of disagreement is over the extent of the demolition. Looking at the other two photographs, I have little doubt that they had reached (over-reached!) their lifespan and had to go. The middle photograph, in particular, illustrates the remarkable ability of property speculators to cram in as many houses into the smallest space. The rich landowners made their millions out of capitalising on the misery of the poor. Rings a bell somewhere!

Havelock Street 1967

Cicero Terrace 1969

Michael and Alan Swerdlow will be well known to many. Their pioneering company, Modern Kitchen Equipment was a familiar site next to the Philharmonic Hall (and before that on the corner of Duke Street and Colquitt Street). Sadly it fell victim to the recession that hit hard back in 1999. In their time, they were well ahead of the competition and, had they survived just a few years, Liverpool’s recent restaurant boom would have seen them prosper and expand. Apart from his work with MKE, Alan was also Chairman of the Bluecoat Society of Arts and a keen photographer. Today’s photographs were taken by Alan and kindly supplied to me by his brother Michael.
More about MKE in a future post. To continue with the Lost Streets theme, the photograph of Havelock Street will hopefully lead to a few gasps of recognition from the children in the photo – who will all be in their 50s now. If readers put Havelock Street in the search box, they will be able to compare today’s image with Karl Hughes’s photo of a few years earlier.
The second photograph is of Cicero Terrace, less than a hundred yards from Havelock Street (off Northumberland Terrace). A suitably winter’s scene but hardly in the Christmas card category.

Old Post Office Place 1913

Hale Street 1913

I have been asked many times which were the most important buildings that Liverpool has lost over its relatively short life (little more than 300 years since it began its transformation from small market town to a world city. Only the Bluecoat Chambers of 1717-25 and the Town Hall – which was substantially reconstructed in 1807 – remain of its eighteenth century key buildings). Of course there is quite a list of buildings: the early city centre churches, the Custom House and the Sailors’ Home among the most important losses. However, it is not the individual buildings that I think were the biggest casualties but the overall townscape, such as the network of streets around St John’s Market and Queen Square and the old ‘sailors’ town around Canning Place, Wapping and Mann Island. These areas represented the early, haphazard port of the mid-nineteenth century, a maze of small streets and alleys off the main streets, housing hundreds of small businesses of a multitude of trades.
Old Post Office Place was one of these ‘lost’ streets. Its starting point is still there – the Old Post Office pub on School Lane – but its existence was wiped out after wartime bombing levelled the area. The site was purchased by Littlewoods for its post-War site and Post Office Place was absorbed into the new Church Street. In the photograph, the building at the end of the street is Bon March? (later taken over by George Henry Lee – now John Lewis). The clock advertises Oldfields, diamond merchants and jewellers.
Hale Street is another street that has vanished under post-War development. It was a narrow alley connecting Dale Street with Tithebarn Street (it was between Moorfields and Vernon Street). Fortunately, other alleyways such as Hackins Hey, Hockenhall Alley and Eberle Street have survived and give character to the city’s commercial centre. The building at the top of Hale Street is Exchange Station but I do not know which factory the chimney belonged to.

First of all, best wishes for 2014 and with it my New Year resolution – to get back to a weekly (or thereabouts) blog. The last few months have been a difficult time but there is nothing like a New Year to get back on track.
Today’s image is by that prodigious producer of local views, Priestley and Sons. The family originated from Huddersfield, where they had a successful studio but relocated to Wallasey in the 1890s. For a couple of decades, the company produced hundreds of images of local landmarks on both sides of the Mersey, specialising in shipping subjects. The views were ‘popular’ subjects which could be easily sold – so there were plenty of images of St George’s Hall, the Town Hall and the Landing Stage.
This particular photo (number 1495) is of King Orry of Douglas, one of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s fleet. It was the second King Orry and was built in 1871. In 1912, it was scrapped and replaced by King Orry (3), which sank during the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.