Pier Head 1911 (the Liver Building is minus its Liver Birds)

Pier Head 2000

Pier Head, May 2010

It is easy to cast oneself as yet another moaner who is always finding fault with any changes. I’d like to think I have a positive attitude to change and I have welcomed many of the recent developments that have transformed the city. I am a big fan of the new Museum of Liverpool and see it as a graceful addition to the waterfront along with the Arena. However, the destruction of one of the best cityscapes in the country makes my blood boil.

The waterfront has always been restricted to the people of Liverpool and the first view taken in 1911 shows a scene that would have been enclosed by storage sheds along the Dock Road. However, the opening up of the vista, particularly from 1984 with the landscaping around Albert Dock, created a magnificent view that lifted the spirits as you walked or drove past. The view through the arch became a favourite photo opportunity – framing the Pier Head in all its glory. My view taken in 2000 captures a scene that must have impressed any visitor to the city. (I used a similar shot for the cover of Quentin Hughes’ Liverpool City of Architecture to highlight the best view in the city). So what have they done? Taken away an iconic view that sold the city for three blocks of black glass-faced speculation that have changed the waterfront for generations (or at least until they pull them down). Why there? Why black when virtually every building in Liverpool is either brick or white stone? We talk about listing buildings. The space around Mann Island should have been declared public open space and landscaped accordingly. Shame on all those who voted for the development (which only got through on a casting vote).

The public are treated with derision by decision-makers. Remember the Fourth Grace fiasco when the public were asked for an opinion and then completely ignored. The obsession with filling every space with commercial buildings is wrong-minded and damages the city’s heritage. We need more open space not less. We have been palmed off with a little patch of green in Liverpool One when what we should have are swathes of green across the city centre. Whoops – I have turned into a typical moaner in three paragraphs.

Pier Head as you will never see it again

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