Tagged: St John’s Market

While researching yesterday’s post about Squeaking Jimmy, I dug out my copies of Horne and Maund’s seminal five book series Liverpool Transport. A lifetime’s work – these are often described as books for ‘anoraks’ by those with only a passing interest in transport. To me, they belong to a fine tradition of writing about Liverpool that I believe is unrivalled in any other city.
Over the last 40+ years, the number of books keeps rising, including many seminal works such as Quentin Hughes’s Seaport – which had a profound effect on all who read it – and the Pevner series, recently brilliantly revised in two volumes by Richard Pollard and Joseph Sharples. There have been many other important books – including English Heritage’s six volume series published for Capital of Culture Year. I have published approaching 200 titles as Bluecoat Press and yet I have turned down five times as many because there is a limit to what I can do. The result of all this effort is a deep awareness of the Liverpool’s rich history – quite astonishing for such a ‘young’ city. Go to Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds or any other city and you will find nothing like the same breadth or depth of titles. Sadly, I see the number of books being published rapidly slowing down – after all, there are only two major bookshops (both Waterstones) in the city centre and little else outside. The internet is obviously a superb source of information but it is difficult to replicate the structure of a physical book (although ebooks will soon take on this function).
Publishing is at an interesting crossroads and I hope my blog helps in the transition from paper to digital. Today’s photographs are a case in point – two previously unpublished images of market life in the 1890s. Both are captioned Back o’ the Market and bear close similarities to Inston’s work. This is life in the raw as hawkers try to make a few pennies from selling rags, broken crockery or whatever else can make them a few coppers.

I have just returned from a few days in the North East, including a day spent wandering around Newcastle. Walking past Eldon Square, once one of Europe’s finest squares, it seems inconceivable that a magnificent Georgian townscape could be so ruthlessly destroyed for a concrete replacement. Much of the town centre was the work of architect John Dobson, the Newcastle equivalent of the Fosters (father and son) who dominated Liverpool’s emerging townscape in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Fosters had similar grandiose plans to reshape Liverpool and were responsible for many of the public buildings including the Custom House, the School for the Blind, the Oratory and St James’s Cemetery, St Luke’s Church, St Andrew’s (Rodney Street) and St John’s Market. The Market, regarded by the much-travelled artist James Audobon as the finest he had seen, was widely admired for its fine Classical detail, advanced lighting and engineering. Sadly, its fate was, like Eldon Square, to be replaced by an ugly concrete shopping centre which, like its Newcastle equivalent, had nothing in keeping with its surroundings.