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Entering new eras in history

Liverpool Landscapes was a blog charting new discoveries, news and developments affecting Liverpool's historic environment. It was regularly updated between 2007 and 2016.

Liverpool Landscape has now been retired, and most of the less time-dependent articles moved to Historic Liverpool.

A photo of the Liver Building from Princes Dock, entitled Two of Us, by Eric the Fish via Flickr

Two of Us, by Eric the Fish via Flickr

Welcome back to the Liverpool Landscapes blog! I do hope you came checking every day while I was away ;-), but even if not, you’ll be glad to know I’m rested, relaxed and raring to go to bring you the most interesting bits of news concerning the history of Liverpool. The theme of this post seems to be milestones, in a way, so let’s start with politics…

The general election and history

The first occasion on the horizon is of course the General Election. As a civil servant, I should probably be careful what I say in the run up to May 6th, but it’s worth pointing out that the Museums Journal this month contains a short analysis of what the main parties intend to do should you vote them into power next month. (You’ll need to register to view the article, or pick up a copy of MJ in the local library).

All the parties seem to agree on free admissions to museums, a move away from targets, and on increasing access to arts and cultural institutions. However, Louise de Winter of the National Campaign for the Arts notes that Labour’s reliance on free admission to help with increased access is not enough.

The Conservatives emphasis on helping people to help themselves (“Big Society, Small Government”) may extend to the cultural sector, with an ‘arm’s length principle‘ being applied to supporting museums.

The Liberal Democrats also want to enable museums to be more independent and enterprising, and want to generate more arts and heritage money from the National Lottery through tax changes.

At the time of the Journal’s press, the Labour manifesto had not been released, but it noted that the party wanted to ensure all Britain benefits from the digital revolution, and to build on earlier schemes such as Find Your Talent.

English Heritage publish heritage protection paper

Even though the Heritage Protection Bill did not make it into the Queen’s Speech last year, work has continued on reforming the way the historic environment is cared for.

All you professional archaeologists out there will know about PPG15 and PPG16, the two documents which make rescue archaeology (and so the vast majority of professional archaeology occurring in this country) possible. These documents are both almost 20 years old, and have been replaced by Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 5.

The long term aims with heritage protection reform (HPR) are to replace the current system of listed buildings, scheduled monuments and other designations with a single, hierarchical system. This would make it easier to protect historic sites and buildings, as well as make it simpler for owners of such assets to find the information they need to effectively protect them.

The new document also covers such topics as approaches to planning, climate change issues, and the monitoring of the historic environment. It’s available to download from the Department for Communities and Local Government Planning for the Historic Environment page.

Somewhat related to this is the Government’s Statement on the Historic Environment of England 2010, which has a lovely picture of Canning Dock on the front (minus the new Mann Island developments it seems, but we’ll skip round that issue…).

In the rest of the news…

Well, those are probably the big stories of the day, but there are a few more tidbits to cover.

It’s International World Heritage Day tomorrow (18th April)! Now, I’m assuming that anyone reading this post is somehow interested in a certain World Heritage Site, and now’s your chance to raise awareness of where it is, and the work it takes to preserve and look after it.The Global Development Research Center (sic) has a few suggestions on what people can do to celebrate and commemorate.

Liverpool City Council have organised five tours of parts of the city which fit in with this year’s theme, which is the Heritage of Agriculture. Now, you may argue that Liverpool’s WHS has little to do with agriculture, but as the foremost port of the empire, merchants in Liverpool oversaw a huge proportion of the transport of the world’s agricultural produce. For details of the tours, download the leaflet from the Liverpool World Heritage web site. Places are limited, so get in early!

Speaking of mercantile heritage, the Old Dock is finally to be opened to the public on 4th May. As the BBC report, the remains of the dock wall were carefully preserved during the construction of Liverpool One, and can be seen through a window placed in the floor at the bottom of the steps from the Liverpool Wheel where the Liverpool Wheel used to stand [cheers for the correction, Adrian!].

From next month, there will be a “visitors’ facility” to allow you to view objects found during archaeological excavations there, a computer reconstruction fly-through, and the east section of the dock which has a tunnel suspected of linking to Liverpool Castle. More details are available on the Maritime Museum Liverpool web site.

And finally-finally, architects Baca have another masterplan to ruffle the feathers of the Liverpool Preservation Trust et al. This time the south docks are in the picture, and Baca want to “bring an interesting new approach to waterspace design that will unlock the potential of these wonderful docks and the World Heritage Site”.

As you know, I for one consider that the World Heritage Site needs its potential unlocking. It’s so… tied up there in those creaky old buildings.

  1. I still haven’t managed to make out the dock wall whenever I’ve peered down through the window in Liverpool One, but just wanted to make a minor correction – the Liverpool Wheel isn’t in Chavasse Park in Liverpool One any more, it was only there for Christmas. It’s been moved to the filled-in Kings Dock area and is next to the Echo Arena.

    April 17, 2010
  2. Hi Adrian,
    Thanks for pointing that out – I thought they were going to build a second wheel, and keep them both, but never mind!
    I used to be able to see the wall when Liverpool One first opened, but more recently it’s either too dark down there or there’s condensation on the glass. To be fair, the first time I went I was being shown it by one of the Liverpool Museum staff. It’s quite off to one side, I seem to remember. Still, hopefully the ‘visitor’s facility’ will let us all have a better look!


    April 17, 2010
  3. Conservation Officer #

    Just smiling at your reference to the Liverpool Preservation Trust. They (or rather, he) are having a go at me at the moment for daring to ask how to join, and speculating about whether they really exist. Do you know?

    April 24, 2010
  4. Ahh, are you the anonymous member of the ‘development Cabal’ commenting on the Quality of Mersey article, or are there more who doubt LPT’s membership? 😉 I admire your asking about joining the LPT, as I failed to summon the courage!
    I did a bit of cursory research a little while ago, and found nothing about the Trust unless it was directly related to a Colquhoun comment. I did find that to use the word ‘Trust’ requires a certain amount of legal conditions (I think relating to operating transparently, accounting etc.). I couldn’t find anything about the LPT.
    For you or anyone else interested in the exchange on this topic I’ve just mentioned, it’s at

    April 25, 2010
  5. Conservation Officer #

    That’s me on the BD site, however there do seem to be one or two others around, including a blogger who’s started this

    It has, I understand, annoyed Wayne somewhat as he’s currently lashing out with pointless threats of legal action against people like me who have nothing to do with it. I suppose if you make enough enemies you’ll never know which one is out to get you.

    Though interestingly when I protested at his “outing” me on his blog, and his blackmailing threat to do so to my employers, on the grounds that if I post in my own time as “Conservation Officer” or “CO” about a subject my employers have nothing to do with, I must be representing their views – referring him to the Malicious Communications Act 1988, he chose to ignore it.

    Pot and kettle spring to mind.

    May 3, 2010
  6. Conservation Officer #

    Looks as if someone was asking the same questions as long ago as 2008

    “You have cited the ‘Liverpool Preservation Trust’, approvingly. This is an organisation that appears to be un-registered with the Charities Commission, to have no constitution, one ‘trustee’ (or ‘chairman’) and no members. I understand the sole ‘trustee’ parted ways with the Merseyside Civic Society because of his idiosyncratic views about the future of the city. The ‘trust’ is always happy to provide personal opinions; it is for others to decide how representative they are in reporting them and the credibility it imparts on the reporter in doing so.”

    May 5, 2010
  7. That’s a very interesting blog, CO. I might have to start following it. I’m glad that there seem to be more voices on the side of reason than there are in the Trust. I know from various unrelated groups that I’m part of that zealots do nothing but provide headlines and make the rest of us dismissable.

    May 6, 2010
  8. Hello Martin, thanks for the post, but do you really think having one piece of legislation for the protection of a diverse type of in use, out of use, urban and rural sites will be comprehensive enough? Where’s your QR code?

    May 26, 2010
  9. Hi Pete,

    I’m hoping the legislation will be comprehensive enough. Although it’s one piece of legislation, the main idea with it is to bring all sites under one hierarchical system. I’m paraphrasing heavily here, I suspect, but all sites will be ‘Designated’, but under this overall category the other types of site will be separated. This allows more individual sets of regulations to operate on each type. I believe this will allow for the different conservation issues facing, say, designated historic buildings compared to designated parks and gardens.
    I think the main benefits of this will be in reducing the ‘double-handling’ (as English Heritage term it) and centralise the whole system. It should make it easier for EH and conservationists to keep track of what is designated, and in what way, and also should make the process more streamlined and transparent for those who currently have to wade through scheduled monuments vs listed buildings vs etc etc in the planning process. There’s information on the EH Heritage Protection Reform website:
    Now, as to my QR code: I’ve put it on the About page ( The thing is, I haven’t quite worked out what to do with it yet! Any ideas? I was thinking of getting business cards printed just for this! What do you think?

    May 29, 2010

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