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City Engineer’s Department photographs because one of the main objectives of this blog is to present previously unpublished photographs.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.

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