Kent Gardens, 1975

St Oswald Street, 1979

Two more examples of how the face of Liverpool was so drastically altered in the 1970s. The bold housing projects of the 1930s led by Director of Housing, Sir Lancelot Keay, was one of the most concerted efforts to tackle slum housing. Whole areas of the city were transformed by Keay’s progressive approach. Much of his neo-Georgian styled housing (including very good examples on Queen’s Drive and Muirhead Avenue) remains but his tenement blocks, including the examples shown above, disappeared in the 1970s and 80s.
The high density blocks were considered a great advance at the time and were a vast improvement on the courts and run-down houses they replaced. With proper facilities – running water, toilet/bathroom and gas – they transformed the lives of thousands. St Andrew’s Gardens (the Bullring) and Myrtle Gardens have survived and, perhaps others could have served the community for longer. Sadly, the cost of building maintenance was considered a price not worth paying. Tastes had also changed and there was a desire from many tenants for a more private kind of housing. Most intensive housing schemes seem to have a limited life (perhaps 40 years) before they have outlived there usefulness – the high rise 50s/60s blocks being a prime example. Perhaps Keay’s smaller scale housing work which has successfully survived points to a less flawed model.

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