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Liverpool Underground: tunnels, digs and docks

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.

Map from 1885 centred on the Calder Stones, Liverpool

Today we’re stepping way back into Liverpool’s history, and also seeing how it can tell us something about the city of today.

Going Underground: I’m a big fan of urban explorers – those daredevils who risk life, limb and arrest to scale buildings, explore sewers have a nosey around abandoned buildings. They also seem to be excellent photographers. Well, you need some decent evidence of your adventures, don’t you?

Actually, George Toohey seems to be more on the side of the law than others, gaining access to Lewis’s just before it closed by… asking nicely! But that’s not to detract from this gallery of hidden Liverpool on the Liverpool Echo site. The most intriguing, and in their own ways beautiful, ones cover the Waterloo Tunnel, but we also see into the basement of the Cunard Building, snaps of the Stanley Dock, the power station at Bromborough, and the Rolls Royce building on Oldham Street. I’m assuming some of these would have required permissions, though others are probably ‘accessible’ at your leisure… My favourite is probably of the underground River Jordan – not a sight you see every day!

I’m assuming it’s the same George Toohey who has this Flickr account of Liverpool photos, though the shots on there miss out the hidden Liverpool aspect.

Black and White Streets: This is an odd one: the website doesn’t make it easy to find out much about its owner, one Peter Hagerty. In a way, it’s enough to know that he’s a photographer, and a good one at that, and also that he works a lot in Liverpool. (Further investigation shows that he’s from Liverpool, and has an interest in Chambre Hardman.)

There’s a new book just out, a collection of photographs taken in the 1980s. The common connector is that the Anglican Cathedral appears in every shot, “as both a guide to locale and formal anchor in the changing city landscape”, and it’s called Thirty Six Views (of Mount James) 1982. The title’s probably a nod to Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by the Japanese artist Hokusai (1760–1849).

But the main photos of interest I’ve just stumbled across are in an album entitled… well, the album’s not titled. You’ll just have to press the Next and Back buttons to move through them. They’re mainly black and white photos of doorways, shop fronts and posters plastered on abandoned places. Very evocative, and I think they’re from the time c.2005 just priory to the regeneration of much of the Liverpool city centre.

The Continuing Adventures of Lime Street: We all know about the plans for Lime Street, and the dull and uninspired development which was intended to replace interesting façades on the all-important gateway to the city.

Well, the ever-interesting Streets of Liverpool blog gives us a handful of pictures from 20th century Lime Street, from the Crown Hotel onwards, and laments the plans, which Colin Wilkinson called for in 2011 (though he takes no credit!). A photo of the awful 1950s block across the road from the Futurist shows just what is being left behind while gems like the cinema are desecrated.

There’s no telling how this story will end up, but it’s important to put it in context. Colin’s photos show a vibrant shopping street in the 1970s, which is already lost. Something needs to be done to Lime Street, for Lime Street, but it needs to be sympathetic. Let’s see what happens.

The Old Dock gets older: August 2015 brings with it the 300th anniversary of the Old Dock, Liverpool’s (and the world’s) first commercial enclosed wet dock. In Liverpool, all roads lead to the Old Dock, and so much history flows from it (not least the city’s name, which derives from the Pool which was filled in to accommodate the Dock in 1715).

The Maritime Museum blog gives a voice to Danny, a Liverpool-born-and-bred tour guide for the Dock, which can be visited in its sub-LiverpoolONE location. Special anniversary tours are promised for later in the year, and the blog post gives a great concise overview of the site’s history.

I’m ashamed to say I’ve still not been to the Old Dock, so fingers crossed I can get there this year!

The Big Dig at Calderstones: Calderstones Park is one of Liverpool’s wonders. It’s arguably the most beautiful of Liverpool’s parks, possesses playgrounds, fields, gardens, a cafe and the Reader Organisation, and has within it’s bounds the Calder Stones (remains of a 3000 year old monument) and the Allerton Oak (a mere 1000 years old).

And yet next to no archaeology has been done in the grounds. As with many of Liverpool’s parks, the area will have seen very little development, and much of interest may survive hidden below the manicured lawns. Luckily Museum of Liverpool archaeologists and the aforementioned Reader Organisation are getting together to put on a community archaeological excavation. Geophysics has already taken place, giving glimpses of potential goodies to be found once the turf is peeled back. I can’t wait to see what they dig up – it could be anything from the millennia represented in Calderstones’s past!

It operates under the banner Connect at Calderstones, and you can find out more, including how to get involved, on the project’s web pages.

Wait! Just… one more thing

Regular visitors to Historic Liverpool, this blog’s parent site, may have noticed that it’s undergone the latest in it’s many redesigns. The focus on the maps is greater than ever – 80% of each map page is dedicated to the thing now! That applies to the old maps of Liverpool as well as the township pages and the map of Merseyside’s protected heritage which adorns the home page.

The merchandise I mentioned in the last post, and my book Liverpool: a landscape history, are both available to buy directly from the new Historic Liverpool Shop, so have a look and see if you can treat yourself while supporting the continued development of the website. If you’ve got any feedback, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below or via the Historic Liverpool Contact page.