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Posts tagged ‘Capital of Culture’

The Week in Liverpool

Still from a recent Hovis ad, filmed in Liverpool

From a recent Hovis advert, filmed in Liverpool

After last weekend’s exciting Heritage Open Days, there’s been a bit of a lull in history-related things this week. However, in traditional web log style, here are a couple of links you’ll find interesting:

  • Capital or Culture: you decide – “A new documentary is being shot in the city – and city creatives are invited to take part. The question: what did the Capital of Culture ever do for you?” (from the wonderful Seven Streets blog);
  • Liverpool Adverts: a couple of adverts you may or may not have noticed were filmed in Liverpool. My biggest surprise – that class Coca Cola ad was filmed in St. George’s Hall! (also from Severn Streest, with contributions).
  • Memorial garden marks burial site of Williamson Tunnels creator – a memorial garden for the Mole of Edge Hill has been completed. (From the Liverpool Echo.)

Well, that’s all folks for now. See you next week!

Liverpool benefited from Capital of Culture year

La Princesse, by Eric the Fish (2010), via Flickr

La Princesse, by Eric the Fish (2010), via Flickr

It’s been a little while since I posted. Just because the previous post was the 100th (you have been counting, right?) doesn’t mean I’m quite finished with Liverpool Landscapes. I’m currently drafting the second Liverpool Maps post, and also preparing for a rather important personal event coming in the next few weeks. So I hope to get that post to you very soon, and then there’ll be another short gap before you hear from me again (say, late April).

But before I go, here’s a couple of snippets for you to enjoy.

Capital of Culture a success

Impacts 08, as regular readers will know, is a study being carried out  by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University to study Liverpool in the wake of 2008’s Capital of Culture.

They’ve already published a couple of reports, but the latest one gives details about the overall experience of the CoC title. A few choice stats (taken from the Guardian report):

  • 34% increase in tourists (to 9.7m);
  • 85% of Liverpool residents said it was a better place to live;
  • 97% of visitors said they felt welcome.

This is a positive reaction, as there were many detractors in the years leading up the event. I felt, as the Guardian reports, that there were many who worried what would actually happen. There were forever the cynics who’d already decided we’d cock it up.

I remember one Pythonesque encounter on Radio Merseyside:

“One revolutionary pop band does not make a Capital of Culture.”

“What about the football teams?”

“Well, yeah, but two world class football teams and one revolutionary pop band do not make a capital of culture.”

“And the architecture?”

“OK. 2,500 listed buildings, two world class football teams, one revolutionary pop band…”

“And two of the greatest cathedrals-”

“…and two of the greatest cathedrals in the world do not make…”

And so it went on. I paraphrase, of course, but that was the gist of the thing.

Anyway, you can download the report from the Impacts 08 home page.

Liverpool Town Hall

I’ve pointed out Pete Carr’s photography before, but that’s no reason not to mention another. Here’s a great one of the town hall. Pete admits it’s hard to get a shot of the hall without Martin’s Bank in the background, but the bank’s such a great building that it serves as a classy backdrop to this tight shot.

Liverpool Culture Director has high hopes for 2010, and history under threat and online

Claire McColgan, Liverpool Council’s culture director, has spoken to the Echo about her hopes for 2010, and how Liverpool should build on the successes of ’08. She mentions the new Central Library, which should open in the next year or so, and the forthcoming Museum of Liverpool, which is very close to completion. It’s great that so many things came out of ’08 (as McColgan points out) but let’s hope Liverpool can see beyond its recent successes and truly stand on its own merits, of which there are plenty.

Frenson’s Buildings at Risk

The Whitehouse Pub, complete with Banksy artwork, by Vinnn via Flickr

The Whitehouse Pub, complete with Banksy artwork, by Vinnn via Flickr

UPDATE (5th February): the Whitehouse pub is now up for auction, and is expected to fetch between £70 and £80,000.

UPDATE: Frenson now have two months to sort these buildings out for compulsory purchase happens.

Frenson Ltd, developers, may soon be served with a repairs order for two historic buildings they own in Liverpool, as the Echo reports. Both the Watchmaker’s building, in Seel Street, and the legendary Whitehouse pub, in Berry Street are gradually falling apart, and the city council have promised to compulsorily purchase the buildings, or force the owners to repair them, unless action is taken soon.

The Watchmaker’s building is just part of Liverpool’s great horological history, with makers such as Thomas Russell still greatly admired for their craftsmanship. There is even a watch museum in Prescot, where Russell was based.

Finally, as the snow closes in on Merseyside, don’t let your appetite for museum stuff fade! On the National Museums Liverpool website you can now explore their Winter Online Exhibition, with bits and bobs from all corners of the museum group on view. There are stuffed animals, painted snow scenes and Inuit cultural objects to look through, each with its own description.

I don’t know about you, but my favourite’s got to be the little Inuit polar bear carvings!

Impacts of Capital of Culture

The University of Liverpool and John Moores University are assessing the impact of the 2008 Capital of Culture year in a project called Impacts 08. Research has gone on since 2005, and is now at the stage of judging the effects the year had on the city of Liverpool.

Already a whole load of reports are available divided into themes of economics, taking part, culture and the arts, as well as others. My eye was naturally drawn to Liverpool 08 – Centre of the Online Universe, which covers the web and social media (unfortunately my own sites don’t get a mention :)).

You can follow Impacts 08 on Twitter, or on the Impacts 08 blog.

I was going to pick and choose a couple of read, but to be honest, these all look like interesting stuff! Let me know what you think of these in the comments section below. Do they reflect your experience? Did they miss anything out?

Trading Places: A History of Liverpool Docks

Trading Places - a history of Liverpool's dock system

Trading Places: A history of Liverpool docks

This looks like a fairly old corner of the Liverpool Museums site, but Trading Places is a simple and informative interactive map of Liverpool’s dock system and its history. The left-hand menu highlights the docks involved in trade with different parts of the world, as well as the docks’ names and the very reason for the dock systems construction. There’s also a timeline of significant dates along the bottom.

This is a great little tool, and its slightly old-fashioned look and pop-up windows just reflects the simplicity of getting the information across. I’ve been playing around with interactive web maps for a good few years now, so it’s great to see what can be achieved very simply. There’s even an accessible version (click on “begin the voyage”)!

Kudos to Laura Davis’ blog on the Daily Post website, whose advent calendar pointed me to this site, and which has been an lovely little source of historic websites over the last week! Trading Places is the destination behind door 11.

Awards Awards Awards for Liverpool

As you might gather, it’s all about the awards this week – bidding and winning.

First up, it’s the brilliant International Slavery Museum, which gained an honourable mention at the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence, awarded every two years. The museum achieved this through its ongoing work to commemorate the lives and deaths of millions of enslaved Africans, and also the legacies of slavery (racism, injustice, exploitation). François Houtart (Belgium) and Abdul Sattar Edhi (Pakistan), from Belgium and Pakistan respectively, shared the $100,000 prize itself this time.

The Black-E (formerly the Blackie) arts centre in the Great George Street Congregational Church has been awarded £50,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding to preserve its archive. The archive consists of 57,000 photos and slides and 22 filing cabinets of documents, and the project will take three years to complete. Of most interest to me, and I should think to you, is that at least some of these images and documents will end up online. As Wendy Harpe, a founding member of the team, puts it: “we’re not preserving this stuff just for the sake of it”. In addition, parts of it will be put on CD or DVD, although the article doesn’t say whether these will be available outside the Black-E itself. The physical archive will remain at the Black-E or somewhere else in the city. What’s notable is that the current Black-E website has a holding page for a ‘Museum’ section, which would be the natural place for the archive. Looking forward to seeing what comes out of this!

The final award goes to the PR campaign which kept the phrase ‘Capital of Culture‘ ringing in your ears all last year. The campaign, a co-operation between Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool Culture Company, was awarded the Best Public Sector Communications Campaign at the How Do awards this week. I think it’s clear to everybody just how much coverage the event got, locally and nationally, and it’s even been hailed the most successful Capital of Culture programme ever by the European Commission! More facts and figures about how great it was on the ArtInLiverpool blog linked to above.

Liverpool is now bidding to become the first English UNESCO City of Music. Only four other cities can lay claim to the title, including Glasgow, Bologna and Seville. Councillor Warren Bradley pinned down the importance of music to Liverpool: “Music is in Liverpool’s blood… from the days of sea shanties and Merseybeat to classical and dance.” Not sure when the ‘days of sea shanties and Merseybeat’ were, but you get his point. The most exciting thing for me is that a four month long mapping exercise will show where music is being made and played, and submitted in support of the bid. To be honest, they could do worse than to have a look at the Popular Musicscapes project funded by the AHRC and mentioned in one of my own posts a couple of years ago. Hopefully they visited the excellent Beat Goes On exhibition at World Museum Liverpool.

Well, that’s quite a long post! Any other awards we should go for? 🙂

Liverpool Rebranding, and have your say in the Lime Street debate

Liverpool is no longer seen as being part of ‘the north’ – rather it has carved out irs own niche as a unique place, alongside places such as Edinburgh. To capitalise on this turnaround in its image and reputation, and in the light of Capital of Culture 08, a £150,000 branding exercise will see a new post-08 logo being plastered over a fly-over near you. You can also wear it on a sticker or a pin badge. The Liverpool Echo has details of the research and branding.

Artist's impression of Lime Street Gateway development

Artist's impression of Lime Street Gateway development

Liverpool has had its fair share of new skyscrapers in the past few years. Now the steel and glass replacement for Concourse House is no longer on the cards a debate is growing over whether Lime Street looks better or worse without a tall building on its frontage. More of fewer tall buildings in the city centre? The tower discussion goes on at

Liverpool as blueprint for British culture capital

Although officially no longer the European Capital of Culture, Liverpool’s success in 2008 has led to it becoming the blueprint for an ongoing series of similar, British-based awards in the future. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham (a Blues fan, it has been noted) announced today that the new award would be presented every two years. Liverpool 08 mastermind Phil Redmond will be drafted in to lead a working party to explore the idea, which hopes to stimulate regeneration and investment in other parts of the country, in the way it did in Merseyside.

The impact of the Capital of Culture year will be debated at the University of Liverpool. Called Impacts 08, the event will be attended by Burnham and Redmond, and will discuss the effect of events like the Tall Ships Race and Paul McCartney’s concert Liverpool Sound, which brought in £5m. Along similar lines, Edwin Heathecote in the Financial Times examines the legacy of 2008 in terms of the built landscape, giving a fairly positive view of such developments as the Blue Coat chambers and the massive Liverpool One centre.

Finally, what English Heritage suspects is Britain’s first mosque is being regenerated, over 100 years after it fell out of use. It is hoped that this centre on Brougham Terrace, West Derby Street, will show the age of the roots of British Islam. The mosque was founded by and Englishman, Henry William Quilliam, who converted to Islam in 1887.

Independent – Britain’s first mosque to be reborn – after more than a century

BBC News – Revamp for England’s first mosque

A few more things for those of you who like your online resources:

English Heritage’s Heritage Explorer website includes a page on Liverpool as a case study for how to use their educational resources. The site concentrates on West Derby, and the project carried out by a Year 2 class to look at the historic environment around their school. The page includes a lesson plan, and some tips on how to get the kids studying. As well as this case study, the Heritage Explorer site is full of other historic resources for use in the classroom.

Another of English Heritage’s projects is featured on the Council for British Archaeology’s new website. The Aerofilms collection is a massive number of aerial shots of the whole of Britain, spanning nearly 100 years. Only a handful of images are currently available, including one of Liverpool’s old customs house and surrounding bomb devastation in 1946, but plans are afoot to get this amazing resource online in the future.

Also, for those interested in the archaeology hidden under Liverpool Bay, Wessex Archaeology are conducting a pilot scheme to investigate this body of water as part of their England’s Historic Seascapes research, in association with English Heritage. There’s a great summary of all the exciting stuff that should be found on the seabed on their site, and I’ll try to keep you up to date with their findings.

West Derby trams, new CBA website, and an end to 2008

The latest edition of the free Liverpool Link newsletter has a fairly long article about West Derby trams. Recently, roadworks on Mill Lane have revealed the old iron rails which the trams ran along – single lane with passing loops – and which were permanently visible until around 1970. Green trams (to Green Lane, of course!), and white first class trams ran along the route, until replaced soon after the last World War by motor bus services. Another still-visible reminder is a small junction box on the corner of the cottages leading to St. Mary’s Church. If I’d have read the article in time I would have tried to get a photo, but alas I was too slow before I had to leave Liverpool for New Year! If I find I’ve actually got one hidden on my computer somewhere, I’ll add it, but in the mean time go to West Derby village and have a look for it – it’s a reminder of a disappeared age!

For those of you interested in finding out more about history and archaeology on the Internet, the Council for British Archaeology has a new site (, which has been launched for the 2009. As well as a more modern layout, the site gives you links to online resources such as the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB), and publications such as the Council’s own British Archaeology Magazine, as well as advice on how to get involved in archaeology, or keep up to date with archaeology in the news.

Finally, it is now 2009. Liverpool is no longer the European Capital of Culture. That accolade belongs to Vilnius in Lithuania and Linz in Austria. But Liverpudlians took this year’s celebrations to their hearts, took pride in the events, and took personally any attack on Liverpool deserving such an honour. Ringo will certainly remember that. But the greatest challenge has always been what comes after. Liverpool One is all but complete, although Zavvi didn’t survive to see its new shop in the development. The new Museum of Liverpool is rapidly taking shape. And numerous projects have sprung up or been given new lifeblood by the injection of money and interest in the city. I can’t help but think that all this momentum will be carried on by the city. Despite the huge numbers of tourists who came to Liverpool in 2008, many more will not have been able to make it, and will come next year, or the year after. Thousands more will have told their friends, who will make the trip in the not too distant future. As long as we’re here to welcome in the same way we’ve welcomed people throughout our thousand year history, Liverpool will always be the Capital of Culture.

Woodlands Remembered and Created

There is a very strong woodland feel to events in Liverpool this weekend.

Mab Lane in West Derby is being transformed by the planting of tens of thousands of new trees on a brownfield site, in order to create “the world’s most colourful woodland“. Work is expected to start in Spring next year, and will cost £700,000.

Also this weekend, Liverpool’s Pool Project are celebrating that which first brought royal attention to the area, and which is largely forgotten today: the royal hunting forest of Toxteth. The idea is to recreate one of King John’s hunts through 21st Century Toxteth, and at the same time gather information about the archaeology, biology and botany of the area bounded by modern Upper Parliament Street, Smithdown Road, Ullet Road and Sefton Street.

Toxteth Park was part of a large area of land on the north side of the Mersey which was popular with medieval royalty for hunting and riding. For hundreds of years it was ’emparked’, in practice meaning nothing could be built on it. Only when this status was removed did large scale building begin in the area. In its early days it was the preferred suburb for rich Liverpool merchants to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre. In later years these richer inhabtants of the city moved to other areas such as Rodney Street, north Liverpool/Kirkdale and West Derby. Toxteth became covered in vast swathes of Victorian terraces, built to house the ever-expanding working classes who kept the factories and docks going.

For more information, see the Toxteth pages of the Historic Liverpool website.

Liverpool hosts Tall Ships Race

Over the weekend of 18th to 21st of July, Liverpool played host to a fleet from all over the world, preparing to take part in the 2008 Tall Ships Race. The boats sailed down the River Mersey on the Monday, but not before filling the old and new dock systems with vessels like those which graced the Empire’s second port over the course of the last 200 years. Up to 800,000 people visited the city over the four days, 200,000 of which thronged the shores of the Mersey to watch the Parade of Sail on the Sunday. 50,000 actually boarded the boats to look around for themselves.

The Albert Dock, Canning Dock, Canning Half-Tide Dock, Sandon Half-Tide Dock and Wellington Dock were all full of ships, including training vessels for Brazilian and Mexican crews, as well as more home-grown vessels such as the Glaciere of Liverpool, raised from the bottom of Collingwood Dock.

The ships’ journeys can be followed from Sail Training International’s website.

Liverpool Quay by Moonlight, by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Liverpool Quay by Moonlight, by John Atkinson Grimshaw