In this post I’ve collected together a few articles and pages which delve a little deeper into aspects of Liverpool history. They’re either longer, detailed articles about one topic, or they bring together a whole range of sources.
Posts from the ‘Articles’ Category
Memories are liberally scattered around this week’s links. Photos of life in Liverpool, plus revealing the hidden corners of the city, and life on the Home Front. Read more
Some of Liverpool’s most fascinating history comes out of its darkest days, and to look back on it summons feelings of fascination, astonishment, but maybe even a little nostalgia for ‘simpler’ times. The links in this edition of the blog cover those times, as well as the vibrant history community that is alive and well on the web today. Read more
Just a quick post today, as the interesting stuff in this case is over on another blog, that of the Liverpool-based company Banana Milk Design. A recent post consists of a tour of St. James’ Cemetery around the Anglican Cathedral, looking at the typography which can be seen.
The theme for 2011 in Liverpool could be said to be a celebration of the city’s heroes. This centres around the anniversary of the death of Robert Tressel, author of the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. This ‘socialist novel’ has been described as ‘seminal’, and sought to publicise the author’s criticisms of the greed of capitalism. It was also possibly the first novel about the class war.
Liverpool has a long and proud tradition of philanthropy (and class war…), which are still in evidence today, so although Tressel (born Noonan) had only a fleeting relationship with the city (he died here on his way to Canada in 1911) there is certainly a lot to talk about in this year of Liverpool City of Radicals.
In a couple of future posts I’m going to talk about the radicals, philanthropists and pioneers who have shaped Merseyside’s landscape (in quite broad terms!), but it’s worth starting off with a little round-up of the recent and future events celebrating Liverpool’s influential sons and daughters of all types.
Ragged Trousered Philanthropist
Robert Tressell, who died at the Royal Infirmary and was buried in Walton Cemetery, will be celebrated across February in the city.
A memorial service for the author took place on 3rd February, including a recreation of his funeral. Then, readings from his most famous novel will happen on various days until 15th February.
See the Liverpool City Council Robert Tressell Celebration page for three radical events which happened in 1911, and the plans for this year’s commemorations.
One thing Liverpool is doing more and more prominently each year is art, and so Liverpool Discovers will be one of the best ways to find out about the great discoveries and inventions which can call Liverpool ‘home’.
Liverpool, the Wirral and St Helens will be the venue for a trail of art installations celebrating the lives of Liverpool’s greats, from Stephenson and his Rocket and Jeremiah Horrocks to suffragette Mary Bamber and Ronald Ross, who discovered malaria’s mode of transmission in the world’s first school of tropical medicine.
There’s now a map for you to download and follow to take in all these artworks, so get your walking shoes on and hit the streets (from 14th February!).
Set in Stone
Slightly less Liverpool-centric, and with a questionable level of focus, is a project which is part of the Central Library redevelopment.
Liverpool City Council wants you to have your say in the selection of works to adorn a ‘Literary Pavement’ leading up to the entrance. Titles from books, cinema and music have been nominated, meaning Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band sits next to The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
As I mentioned, this is less Liverpool-centric, but another element of the project is to have a ‘Literary Liverpool’ display on the rear of the building. This gives all its space to Scousers, including Beryl Bainbridge, the late Brian Jacques, and Robert Tressell himself (ok, so we seem to have fully adopted him as an honorary Scouser).
Your role is to vote for who lands on the Pavement and who sticks to the Wall, so go and vote!
I must admit I was only vaguely aware of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists before late last year, and had no idea of the Liverpool connection. So I’ve bought the book, and will let you know my thoughts on it if it’s relevant to this blog. I’m certainly looking forward to picking it up, and if you want to buy a copy while supporting this blog, just click on the book cover to the left. If you buy a copy after using that link (even if you choose another edition!) then a small slice of the profits will go into helping this blog break even.
If you do read it (or already have done!) let me know your thoughts! What have philanthropists ever done for Liverpool? Were their gifts to the city just guilt for their own wealthy status (often earned on the backs of the working class)? Or were they truly trying to change Liverpool for the better? Perhaps it was both.
Next time I’ll explore a couple of people who’ve had a ‘radical’ effect on the city. Who should I include?
If you follow me on Twitter you’ll already know that I’m currently writing the Croxteth Park page for Historic Liverpool. So while the blog might be a tad quiet at times, I want to share today a couple of websites: one of interest to Liverpool local history and family historians, and another which has a global scope but which may well build into a resource for the Liverpool-focused.
There’s also a map-related news story for you.
Lost Tribes of Everton and Scotland Road
The new book by Ken Rogers, The Lost Tribe of Everton & Scottie Road, covers the period when the masses of terraced housing in the northern inner suburbs of Liverpool were demolished. The communities in the area were scattered to places like Speke, Kirkby and Skelmersdale, and the houses replaced with Everton Park and the entrance to the Kingsway Tunnel.
Ken went through the electoral role for 1960 to find all the people who lived in the now-gone communities, and collected memories and stories for his book.
The amazing thing about the companion website (and a brilliant example of how to use the Internet to accompany a traditional book) is that you can actually search for the people in the ‘lost tribe’ by family surname or the name of the street they lived in. One thing to note, however: make sure you click on the Search tab to be taken to the search page first. I found that the home page search didn’t work for me.
This site is a great resource for family history as well as people who want to reconnect with those they used to live near. There’s an active discussion going on at the site, so do pop along and report back if you rekindle any long-lost friendships!
A lot of the stories are also of course collected in the book itself. And best of all the website has a string of old maps and photos of the area. Might come in useful when I come to be updating the history of Everton page next.
I found this site via Seb Chan, who’s known in the Museum world for his work bringing archives and exhibits to the wider public through the Internet.
SepiaTown is a site which maps photos, video and audio clips. It wants users (including museums and similar organisations) to upload their old photo collections for the entire world to gain the benefit.
It’s best collections are in places like London, New York and, partly due to the work of Seb Chan and colleagues, Sydney. However, there’s a couple of photos around – though not in – Liverpool (just type it into the search box, then zoom out) and if anyone has any more images they’d like to share, this number will increase.
I have a handful of old postcards which I keep meaning to scan in, so perhaps I can lend a hand.
Memories of Park Lane
And if you’re feeling a bit left out with talk of the northern suburbs, National Museums Liverpool could have the answer for you. They are looking to hear from people with memories of living near the southern and central docklands from the 1950s to 1970s.
The Mapping Memory project team ran a workshop at Doreen’s Cafe last month, focussing on Park Lane. They recreated the landmarks (pubs and shops etc) on a map as part of the project. The project page on the Maritime Museum website gives more detail. More for you to contribute to!
Ken Rogers’ book The Lost Tribe of Everton & Scottie Road is available now through Amazon. If I’ve whetted your appetite for exploring the area and you’d like to support this blog, please click on the book cover to buy it through my Amazon affiliate link.
Black History Month is held in October each year. It’s origins go back to 1926, and the work of Carter G Woodson, editor for thirty years of the Journal of Negro History. It’s aims are:
- Promote knowledge of the Black History, Cultural and Heritage
- Disseminate information on positive Black contributions to British Society
- Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people to their cultural heritage.
Any student of Liverpool history (and any Liverpool child schooled in the history of the last 300 years) knows the role of black people in the growth, development and wealth of the city, particularly in the Victorian period.
At this time every year, however, a wider debate occurs as to whether Black History Month is still relevant. Is black history not worthy of study the rest of the year? Does the study of general history not include black people to the proper extent (and what is the ‘proper extent’?).
It’s probably not an argument that can be resolved conclusively, easily, or soon, but Liverpool for all its crimes during the height of trans-Altlantic slavery is in a well-placed position to enter the debate.
Black History in Liverpool
The award-nominated International Slavery Museum at the Albert Dock is perhaps the major place to go to learn about Liverpool’s role in transatlantic slave trade, and was built on the success of the transatlantic slavery gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
As the Vision for the museum states, despite the horrors that went on as part of that trade “the story of the mass enslavement of Africans by Europeans is one of resilience and survival against all the odds, and is a testament to the unquenchable nature of the human spirit.” The museum is telling an affirmative story of the people, who are depicted as humans, not simply victims.
Another story which is being told, and which has special relevance to the subject of this blog, is that by Eric Scott Lynch on the Black History Tours.
As their website explains, the tours encourage us to “raise our eyes from the ground, both physically and metaphorically”. This, coincidentally, was how I developed an interest in the physical urban history of Liverpool: by looking at the details of the buildings, the friezes above the great doors of the Victorian institutions and the road names dotted around the city centre, you can see generally the past written out for you, and specifically the role of slavery – enslaved Africans and the wealthy who traded in them – in the creation of Liverpool as it is today.
Speaking of street signs, you may remember that Laurence Westgaph wrote a leaflet called ‘Read the Signs’ back in 2007. The leaflet covered a number of streets in Liverpool who were named after those involved in the slave trade – either making money from it or campaigning for its abolition.
A debate surrounded whether these streets should be renamed – including Penny Lane and Bold Street – or whether by keeping the streets as they are we would be reminded of how history played itself out.
There are events going on during Black History Month in Liverpool Museums. See the 2010 Events Programme for details.
You can download Laurence Westgaph’s Slavery Remembrance Tour as MP3s and an accompanying map from the Liverpool08 website.
There are a number of books covering the trans-Altantic slave trade and Liverpool’s role in it:
Liverpool Continuing Education
Another useful resource for your educational needs is of course Liverpool University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning. They have an ongoing programme of courses, of which you may be most interested in History and Local History, or perhaps Irish Studies, which includes Finding the Liverpool Irish.
If you know of any courses which might be of interest to readers of this site, do get in touch. Or have you been on a course just mentioned, and want to recommend it? Let us know in the comments.
English Heritage and London Metropolitan University today launch Visible in Stone, a project and online resource to explore the influence women had on the built environment during a century of intense social change.
After the Second World War, and the undeniably essential jobs done by women during 1939-45 occupying the gaps left by conscripted men, women had gained political and social rights perhaps undreamed of by their ancestors of one hundred years before. However, the journey to this point began to take off around 1850, and the Visible in Stone project seeks to publicise the archives and information which bring this journey to life.
How this ties in to this blog and the very phrase ‘visible in stone’ lies in the institutions and organisations which campaigning women and men formed themselves to fight for rights such as suffrage. An example is the meeting of the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage in the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1868. As the English Heritage page says: “The buildings … are a monument to those women who had the tenacity and courage to argue for and capture their vision for our future.” Wash houses, lodgings, offices and even shops were all arenas where women began to change their place in society.
I have to admit that my knowledge of this type of history in Liverpool is limited, although I know that the city is one of three (along with Derby and London) which has a monument to Florence Nightingale (at the corner of Princes Road). In addition, the first trained Nightingale nurses began work at the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary.
The Visible in Stone project is perfect for one such as I then, as they want your help. There is a Visible in Stone Flickr group associated with the project where you can add your photos of buildings important to women’s history. This should build into a collection of images to celebrate the journey from 1850 to 1950, and highlight the impact on the built environment this period and these people had. Do go and see if you can contribute.
But, while you’re here, are there any more places on Merseyside with an essential role for women between 1850 and 1950? Let us know in the comments.
A lot of the themes covered in this blog post, as well as Visible in Stone can be found in Women’s History: Britain, 1850-1945: An Introduction, edited by June Pervis. The book consists of chapters dealing each with a theme on the topic, and is an introduction to women’s history.
If you’d like to support this blog, please consider buying this book through the affiliate link. Click on the book cover to go to Amazon.
On a national scale, and a counterpart to the HER, is the National Monuments Record (NMR) in Swindon, which has been part of English Heritage since 1999. The NMR holds millions of photos, plans and other documents, some of which it puts online.
When I first started work for the NMR I played a small role in the expansion of ViewFinder, and this is still my favourite English Heritage site. One of the best, but little-known features are the entrancingly-titled Photo Essays, one of which is called Liverpool: a port of world significance.
This is a short introduction followed by 12 images taken from the NMR’s archives, with captions written by Keith Falconer, one time Head of Industrial Archaeology for English Heritage.
It was written a little while ago now, and some of the pictures feel a little out of date (the view across from the Albert Dock to the Pier Head seems to be missing… something) but it’s refreshing to read about the city’s history and architecture from an author who doesn’t appear to feel the hot breath of passionate Scousers looking over his shoulder. He gives the city its due without hyperbole, and acknowledges that it was, indeed, a city of world importance.
As well as the Pier Head and Stanley Docks, Falconer takes in civic buildings like the Town Hall, and the under-appreciated Oriel Chambers, one of the first iron-framed buildings in the world.
Once you’ve read that, there are a couple of other Photo Essays which might take your fancy, but don’t forget to look at ViewFinder’s entire collection of Liverpool photos. There’s stuff from over 150 years of history, including photos that aren’t that old, but are already becoming important records of Merseyside’s past.
Found any gems?