Tagged: Stan Roberts

David Lewis Hostel and Theatre

Great George Street, 1980

Two more photographs taken by Stan Roberts. Somewhat ironically, he has dated both photographs 1st April 1980.

This was no April Fool’s joke, unfortunately, just the end of a fine institution that had served the city well for over 70 years. My recollection was that the street and hostel had been cleared several years earlier – but Stan was never wrong. One of my earliest memories of Liverpool was going to a meeting at the University Settlement on Nile Street, which was one of the streets that ran up the hill from Great George Street to the Cathedral. The building was part of a shabby Georgian terrace but it had life and character.

David Lewis was one of those larger than life characters who illuminated Liverpool life in the nineteenth century. He had arrived in Liverpool as a 16 year-old and went on to establish Lewis’s Stores as a household name. Deeply religious and philanthropic, he left considerable funds in his will towards charitable purposes (he had already helped fund the Northern Hospital). The David Lewis Hotel (or Hostel) was built in 1906, initially as a place for seafarers. It had sports facilities and a theatre, which staged concerts for the local community (apparently it could seat 1000 people). It doubled up as a cinema, gaining its licence in 1914. I remember it as a community venue in the early 1970s when it was running as a successful youth club. Its fire certificate expired in 1977 and, as the photograph shows, its demolition followed in 1980. Another fine building to add to the lengthy ‘Lost Liverpool’ list.

Walton Road 1976

Great Mersey Street from Stanley Road 1976

I have previously mentioned some of the dedicated photographers who took it upon themselves to document the streets of Liverpool. One name I have not mentioned is Stan Roberts. I knew Stan well. He was a mine of information on anything Liverpool and had built up a magnificent collection of maps and books before his death a few years back. Stan only started taking photographs seriously in the 1960s but he made up for lost time over the next twenty years photographing thousands of street scenes like these two.

I particularly like the idea of Walton Road being Marlboro Country. As the advert says: ‘Come to where the flavour is’.? The photo of Great Mersey Street reinforces my earlier post about Georgian buildings. These were some of the last terraces left after the destruction of the 1950s and 60s. They were part of a solid belt of similar housing that once covered the city from Dingle to Everton and beyond. Thanks to photographers like Stan – whose work will feature regularly in my blog – we do have a valuable record, even if it is of decay and impending destruction.