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
In a follow up to an earlier story, the Banksy image of a rat on the side of the White House pub will no longer be covered up with hoardings. It had earlier been reported that the Culture Company felt it had “no choice” but to cover the lower part of the image. Visitors to the city had complained at the earlier decision.
Phil Redmond and Bryan Gray have this week outlined their vision for the future of the Liverpool Culture Company. The legacy for the city beyond 2008 should be more than just about the arts, the pair claim. Social issues and the environment should also play a part, and both Mr Gray and Mr Redmond hope to bring a large number of their contacts in to contribute. Mr Gray gave examples of the inspiration behind cultural plans for the years ahead. He said: “Why do we have all these theatres but not one world-class theatre? It will not happen by three theatres having separate development plans.”
On a related note, those who know about these things have suggested that the number of people to attend a cultural event this year will top 10 million. More than a million people have already been to such events since the Capital year was officially opened in January. Liverpool City Council claimed that the figure was roughly double the combined attendance at Anfield and Goodison since the start of 2008.
New pictures illustrate plans for the re-vamped St. John’s shopping centre.
Lime Street’s Concourse House is finally to disappear, to the apparent glee of everybody. The shops in front of Lime Street Station’s famous facade have been vacated, and the area will be graced with a public space with trees and pedestrian access. Demolition of Concourse House is to begin within two months, culminating in the creation of a panorama suitable to greet the myriad visitors this city receives each year.
Other demolitions have are attracting less welcome from the locals. The community group responsible for ‘Better Environmental Vision for Edge Lane’s proposals’ or Bevel Plan B, have been branded unrepresentative of the community at large, without membership fees, list of members or formal meetings. Elizabeth Pascoe, leader of Bevel, vowed to seek a judicial review if the inquiry upholds the Compulsory Purchase Order.
Follow-up: After postcards of Birkenhead Park were put on display in the park’s pavilion, the Grade I listed site has been awarded the green flag, a national standard for excellence.
Just days after Liverpool Council was labelled the worst in the country for financial management, the chief executive of the city’s Capital of Culture programme has quit. Jason Harborow, who also headed up the council’s Culture, Media and Sport department, is understood to be receiving a £230,000 pay off, allowing him to concentrate on “other personal business opportunities”. Since the cancellation of the Mathew Street festival, problems between Mr. Harborow and council leader Cllr Warren Bradley have been high profile. This culminated in Bradley calling for Harborow to be relieved of his duties.
Merseyside’s railway stations are to get £1.76m worth of investment in order to improve accessibility. The lucky stations are Bidston, New Brighton, Southport, Wallasey Grove Road and Wallasey Village on the Merseyrail Electrics network and Newton le Willows and St Helens Junction on Northern Rail’s City Line.
And finally, to prove that naming streets after notable citizens isn’t confined to the Victorians, a street in Warrington Collegiate has been named after Great Britain and Warrington rugby league star Mike Gregory, who died after a long battle with motor neurone disease late last year.
In the latest cabinet re-shuffle by Mr Brown, James Purnell has been replaced as Culture Secretary by Andy Burnham, who grew up in Newton-le-Willows. Already he has been to visit his ‘home town’, and given a tour by the director of National Museums Liverpool, David Fleming. Without irony, the ‘lifelong Evertonian’ then went to Anfield to watch Liverpool’s match. Nevertheless, it’s good to see rapid attention paid to Liverpool in its Capital of Culture year. The previous Secretary, James Purnell, trumpeted the importance of heritage in modern society, so naturally some worry about the arrival of yet another MP in this importance position, in this important year. Phil Redmond, Culture Company creative director, noted that as an Evertonian, Andy will have ‘strong cultural and emotional links’ to the city. We can only hope his term in office lives up to promises Phil expresses. Of course, his biggest challenge, as for any culture secretary in these times, is the Olympic Games, and the Cultural Olympiad which runs alongside it.
After last night’s successful People’s Opening on St. George’s Hall Plateau, tonight sees the second part of the festivities for the start of the Capital of Culture year. Again starting at 20:08 GMT, Liverpool: the Musical is billed as a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ experience. Ringo Starr will be taking to the stage again, along with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Pete Wylie, the Wombats, alongside an ‘audio-visual spectacular’ and 90 minutes of film footage shown throughout the programme. Tonight’s event marks the inauguration of the 10,500 seat Echo Arena. More details here.
Ahead of this weekend’s celebrations, Newsnight will be showing a special edition focussing on the next few days, and the coming year, in the Capital of Culture.
Newsnight, 10:30pm, BBC2
Capital of Culture Opening Ceremony
This Friday witnesses the People’s Opening of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations. Nigel Jamieson, artistic co-director for the event told icLiverpool: “It will be something those who go will remember for the rest of their lives.” With a mixture of established acts (Ringo Starr, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) plus other special guests) and younger generation artists, the 40 minute show includes cranes (of course), aerial performers and extreme sports enthusiasts. “There will be people performing in spaces and on stages where you’d never imagine them to perform,” Jamieson said.
Related: Merseyside Police ban ’08 related holiday.
Banksy mural covered up –
A mural of a rat by renowned artist Banksy has had to be partially covered by hoarding as part of the ongoing effort to hide eyesores in the city during the Capital of Culture year. The Liverpool Culture Company said it had “no choice”, as the building on which it was painted – the White House pub at the junction of Berry and Duke Streets – is in such a state of disrepair. Interestingly, a different take can be found on the Liverpool Regional Development Agency website, which brands it a ‘dressing’ of the buildings, with six other ‘selected’ structures. This is the Look of the City project, an attempt to cover with artwork as many ugly buildings as possible, while increasing numbers of visitors wander around the town during the next twelve months.
Welcome to Stavanger
It’s not only Liverpool that’s enjoying a year as European Capital of Culture. The Norwegian city of Stavanger, on the south west coast is paired with the British city in holding the title for 2008. The town has a booming oil-related industry, and is well known, at least locally, for its large number of wooden buildings, and ‘Christmas card image’. It is already a wealthy place, and so their version of the event is less concerned with generating tourism and attracting business investment, and generates as much local cynicism as in Merseyside. Details at the BBC News website
Garden Festival site ‘should be left wild‘;
The new St John’s Shopping Centre unveiled.
Photographs of the houses of Liverpool’s and Wirral’s rich, as well as professional decorators and architects, are on display at Sudley Art Gallery, Mossley Hill Road, Aigburgh, until early 2008. The majority were taken by Harry Bedford Lemere, who was often drawn to the city during its time as the second port of the Empire. The exhibition has been arranged in partnership with English Heritage’s National Monuments Record, which holds a large collection of Bedford Lemere’s work. Many of the images, plus more from the Bedford Lemere Collection, can be found on English Heritage’s Viewfinder website. Follow this link to go straight to his photographs of Liverpool.
Liverpool was in the news yesterday for all the right reasons: it is home to the 3rd most ludicrous law in the UK. In the great city, it is illegal to be topless in public, unless (of course!) you are a clerk in a tropical fish shop. Dying in the Houses of Parliament, and using a postage stamp upside down are also illegal, and voted more ludicrous than the Liverpool law.
Liverpool is often in the media these days, what with the Capital of Culture events of next year, and the many exciting and controversial developments in the World Heritage Site and beyond. This blog will keep you abreast of the handful of articles I come across. Feel free to add more in the Comments section.
To get going, here are a few of the pieces I’ve found in the last few months:-
- With Liverpool facing up to its placement at the Old Kent Road end of a hypothetical Monopoly board of Britain, the Guardian dedicates one of its ‘In praise of…’ columns to the city. The snub was “shrugged off with the humour for which it is famed”, with the council saying the manufacturers should be given a Go to Jail card. Still, Newcastle and Edinburgh failed to make the board at all.
- River of Life: a large feature in the Guardian Society section tells of David Ward’s journey to find the source of the River Goyt, a Mersey tributary, and a walk along quite a length of the Mersey itself. As well as the oft-celebrated salmon, cod are regularly caught by local fishermen as far upstream as Otterspool; the only reason they’ve not been found further up being that “we haven’t fished there”. Porpoises, grey seals and an octopus – predators – have followed in the fishes’ wake. (Ward’s book Mersey: the River that Changed the World will be published on December 6th by Bluecoat Press)
- Guardian National news: under a photograph of the Pier Head, including the proposed Mann Island development, an article outlining the huge events programme lined up for next year. Highlights naturally include Paul and Ringo, and the public face of the Culture year, Phil Redmond. A city-wide public arts programme, similar to the Biennial and events covering Bill Shankly, Mersey music and ‘North-West Side Story’ are also highlighted.
- Finally, on October 25th, the Financial Times contained a whole supplement dedicated to the business potential of the whole region, entitled Doing Business in Liverpool and the North West. I haven’t had a chance to look at this in detail, but unsurprisingly it concentrates on the relevant interests of the FT’s readership, and is also overwhelmingly optimistic. More on this soon.
Well, I hope this gives you a taste of what the blog will bring. No doubt there will be plenty to report on in the next 18 months, and hopefully beyond. As it stands, nothing is off topic at the moment, so if you want to contribute, feel free to get in touch. Thanks for reading!