February, 2014 Archives

Looking north from the Cathedral tower, 1962

Looking south from the Cathedral tower, 1962

The view from Liverpool Cathedral’s tower is one of the best vantage points to observe Liverpool. I have photographs dating back to the early 1950s and it is intriguing to see how much change has taken place. The two featured photographs, taken in 1962, are a case in point, although the view north needs close examination. Much of the foreground is relatively unchanged. The domed church on the right is St Philip Neri on Catharine Street. Behind it is the old Women’s Hospital. Beyond, the rows of Georgian terraces have since been thinned out, almost to nothing. The massive chimney, top right. is near Crown Street. I have a history of it somewhere but cannot put my hands on it. I am sure someone will be able to both name it and give its location (and year of demolition). On the far left is the Lybro jeans factory on Mount Pleasant – removed during the extensive roadworks to improve access to the M62. The church tower on the horizon is Christ’s Church on Kensington.
The view to the south is dramatic. The river view is dominated by the two huge granaries, which were demolished in the late 1980s. Cain’s Brewery, immediately in front, is dominated by their huge bulk. On the left are the twin domes of the David Lewis Hostel and Theatre, another unnecessary 1980s casualty (to the inner ring road that was eventually abandoned). The roofs of the old Georgian houses that ran down from the western side of the Cathedral to Great Georges Street were all to disappear within twenty years. In fact, the only noticeable survivors of this view are Cain’s Brewery and the Contemporary Urban Centre (the large warehouse to the far right, which is now an academy. The building that intrigues me is the tall, turreted building to the left of Cain’s (on the edge of the photograph). Any ideas?

Enough of Lost Streets and the past for a while and on to what could have been (and still could be) the future.
In 1956, when the survival of Liverpool Overhead was being fought for, and lost, a model of its potential replacement was shown in Liverpool by the International Monorail Company. The ?2000 model was for a suspended railway to run between London and London Airport, carrying 60 passengers at up to 70 mph.
I am a great fan of monorails. Their installation appears to cause far less disruption than trams and are visually more stimulating. They also have a wow factor which Liverpool is ideally suited to benefit from. Imagine a monorail linking the city along the waterfront out to John Lennon Airport! Liverpool needs ambitious transport infrastructure projects. John Alexander Brodie, as City Engineer, was a man of great vision – planning the orbital Queens Drive, the first major modern inter-city road connection (the East Lancs Road) as well as the Mersey Tunnel. He saw the necessity of building a proper transport network to ensure economic growth and the argument is no different today, with the pressure building up to extend HS2 into Liverpool directly. What is important is not just to cut journey times to London and provide faster and more efficient freight transport (particularly with the new L2 Container project well underway) but also to make sure we have a more efficient and environmentally sound internal network. I think monorails are well worth another look.