Hood Street, 1986

Swagmen, Church Street, 1986

Liverpool’s changing face can be seen in the contrasting images of my last post of Queen Square and the top image of the appropriately ugly-named Hood Street Gyratory. The wasteland-cum-carpark which replaced the Stork Hotel and Queen Square is a bleak reminder of the folly of grandiose Council schemes that come to nought. Perhaps the grim walkway is an even more potent reminder of what could have happened if the plan to rehouse all the Council departments in one huge building had actually succeeded. Fortunately, it never happened but not before another chunk of Liverpool had been levelled to the ground.
I spent some 6 years converting The Grapes pub, on the left of the photograph, to house a photography gallery, sound studio, film and photography workshops amongst other functions. Next door was a homeless drop-in centre which in turn was neighbour to News from Nowhere bookshop and, on the end of the block, EH Jones (electricians). All were demolished in the late 1990s to make way for the new Queen Square development.
It is frightening how fast time moves on. The second photograph, of swagmen in Church Street, was taken at the same time – probably the nadir of Liverpool’s post-war fortunes. This was the time when Bill Bryson, who was inordinately fond of the city and its people, declared that he was greeted by a festival of litter as he arrived at Lime Street. I remember the early 1980s as the only time I seriously considered leaving for other pastures. With the constant factory closures, the Militant politics, the Granby Riots, it really did feel as if all hope had evaporated. Then along came the restored Albert Dock, the International Garden Festival and the Tall Ships Race and the lights turned on again. It hasn’t been plain sailing since then but the photographs of Hood Street and Church Street back in those forlorn years are an apt reminder of how far we have come in the last 25 years.

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