In starting this thread about Lost Liverpool, I was concerned with those buildings that would have enhanced today’s city had they survived. The underlying criterion is that of architectural merit but that would probably not apply to Liverpool Overhead Railway, which was not a particularly beautiful structure. In the case of other inclusions, such as the Old Hutt, the historical context is of greater importance – offering clues as to pre-Industrial Revolution Liverpool. One of the other areas worth adding to the list is the building’s significance within the context of social/public health reform – and here Liverpool was the centre of many pioneering ideas.
15 Upper Frederick Street Wash-House
One hundred and fifty years after her death, Kitty Wilkinson is to be honoured with a statue in St George’s Hall. Born in Derry, in 1785, Kitty courageously took in the washing for over 85 families each week during the cholera epidemic of 1832 in an effort to stop the contagion spreading. Her persistent petitioning for better facilties led to the first public wash-house being opened in Upper Frederick Street in 1842 (and later rebuilt in 1853). The idea took hold and further wash-houses were built in Liverpool and elsewhere. The wash-house was still operating up to 1925 but was demolished shortly afterwards. Modern housing now stands on its site.
16 The last court
Probably my most controversial selection – but what a tragedy that no courts survive. The last one disappeared in late-1960s and with it a huge piece of Liverpool’s history. (The photograph is certainly one of the last to be inhabited). This was how hundreds of thousands lived for much of Liverpool’s post-1800 history. The politicians were in such haste to remove these ‘blots’ on the conscience of a modern city (albeit to create the disasters of new towns and high rise living) that they did not stop to think of the educational potential of keeping an example for future generations. Today we are building a multi-million pound Museum of Liverpool – but we could have had a museum like Ironbridge or Beamish that told a far more meaningful story (and at a fraction of the cost). I suppose hindsight is easy – but these humble buildings were as much a part of Liverpool’s history as any of the churches or commercial buildings I have posted.