Tagged: London Road

I have many photographs of Liverpool pubs, particularly from the early years of the twentieth century. Brewers, in particular Walkers, took photographs as part of the licensing process and there are substantial ledgers of their pubs in Liverpool Record Office.
Interestingly, the breweries were only interested in the exteriors – often with the manager and staff standing proudly in the doorway. Interiors are much rarer and this is the first I have seen from the turn of the century. It was taken in 1908 by well-known Liverpool photographers Brown, Barnes and Bell of 31 Bold Street and published as a real photographic postcard. Such postcards were a lucrative source of income for photographers and they would sell their services to shops, pubs and even householders. The cards were usually produced in small numbers and, as a result, are quite rare (and expensive to buy nowadays). Everything could be made into postcards, from important moments such as the 1911 Transport Strike (by local photographers Carbonora), to more local events such as garden parties, road accidents and the like.
What I particularly like about the interior of the Parrot is the dress code of the barmen, all very proper, to the sign advertising Jones’ Knotty Ash beer at 2p a pint. Judging by the till, a customer has just paid for two pints (at what is still only 2p in modern money).
Many thanks to Martin Lewis for allowing me to reproduce today’s photograph (which found its way over to Seattle).

Norton Street 1971

London Road 1973

Moss Street 1973

Norton Street 1976

London Road 1979

Following on from my blog about the demise of TJ Hughes, I have posted several images of London Road at the end of its ‘glory days’. All the photographs were taken in the 1970s and show the road was still a busy retail centre with nearly all the shops trading.
Perhaps it wasn’t too surprising. Liverpool still had a population of 610,000 at the time of the 1971 Census, although this was substantially down on the 1961 figure of 745,000. The decline continued and the last Census in 2001 registered a population of 441,830. A decline of that magnitude has to impact on the whole city and London Road has been hit very hard by the loss of its immediate population. Looking at the photographs, it is sad to see the subsequent loss of a number of fine buildings. I particularly like the showroom on Norton Street in 1976 with its impressive Gothic windows. Fortunately many of the buildings have survived although many are run-down. The Prince of Wales pub on the corner with Moss Street has always intrigued me. I have never been inside it (it seems to have been closed since the early 1980s) but it is a real gin palace on the outside with statues in niches and a chateau-style roof.
What is the future of London Road? I feel it is too far away from the city centre to have any hope of a retail revival and can only see a continued neglect, particularly once the focus of TJ Hughes is taken away. Change is inevitable but it is sad to see such a marked decline in a once buoyant area.

When this photograph of the Odeon, London Road, was taken, the cinema was just 20 years old. The cinema was built on the site of a boxing stadium which had closed in 1931 and opened as the Paramount in 1934. Its opening was not without incident as the Scala, Futurist and Palais de Luxe all objected to it on the grounds that the Paramount company produced, distributed and exhibited films – making competition virtually impossible. The objections were overruled and a state of the art cinema erected. Interestingly, the frontage was restricted to about half the building’s width because of the presence of the neighbouring store. The architect made up for the lack of width by building tall, with a distinctive stonework central feature which was illuminated by neon lights.
The cinema was designed for a single screen with stalls and a circle and a seating capacity of 2670 (1972 in the stalls and 698 in the circle). A resident organist gave shows every day and was in almost continual use until the cinema was split into twin screens in 1968. In 1942, Paramount sold the cinema to the Odeon Deutsch group and it was renamed the Odeon. In 1954, the year of the photograph, it became the first Merseyside cinema to be equipped for CinemaScope films, later replaced by the larger ToddAO system (the screen was 51 x 24.5 foot). Following a record run of The Sound of Music, the cinema converted to twin screens. All the architectural features in the foyer and auditorium were lost in the conversion, which introduced Panavision and full stereo sound. One particular point of interest was the performances of The Beatles at the cinema in the early 1960s (before conversion). In 1973, an additional screen was added, followed in quick succession by a fourth and fifth screen (in 1979), followed by further subdivisions which finally gave the cinema 10 screens by 1999. This was to mark the end of development and the opening of Odeon’s new cinema in Liverpool One was to prove the end of the road for a cinema that had provided great entertainment for over 60 years.

Here is another previously unpublished colour photograph of a prosperous looking London Road, in the days when it was an important shopping centre serving a densily populated neighbourhood. The year is 1960 judging by the film on show at the Odeon – Swiss Family Robinson – which was released that year.
What catches the eye are the well-maintained shops and the unmistakeable facade of the Legs of Man pub (with two workers precariously balanced on ladders – no Health and Safety in those days). I last called into the Legs back on June 26th 1996. The day was an unfortunate clash of two unmissable events – England v Germany at Euro 96 and Bob Dylan playing at the Empire in his first return to Liverpool since 1966. No contest – I watched Dylan play a scintillating set (with Al Kooper on organ) to a two thirds full auditorium. Fancy giving up your seat to watch the inevitable penalty shoot-out!
The Legs went soon after – as have most of the other buildings. London Road is a shadow of its former glory, with only TH Hughes offering any real connection with the past.