Mersey Ferry Snowdrop turning into Pier Head, by Boilerbill via Wikipedia
I’m currently doing a little bit of research for the River Mersey page on Historic Liverpool, and have come across a quite anoraky, but truly amazing site about shipping. It’s called ShipAIS, and is run by “A group of ShipPlotter enthusiasts”. The site, like my own I suppose, is based around a map tracking all the shipping (or as much as possible) in UK waters, from Orkney to the coast of mainland Europe. The site built up from one man experimenting with motion detecting photography from his own window, and now includes the AIS information (identification and callsign info broadcast over the radiowaves). The ships are plotted on the map, including a couple of tracks (I noticed a track for the Mersey ferry Royal Iris when I was on the site today).
My recommendation for readers of this blog would be to look at the map of Liverpool Bay, then click on one of the ships you see in the port for a detailed view of that area. In many cases you get a small photo of the ship in question, and in all cases you get the name of the ship, its speed, type, tonnage and a couple of other details.
The site could do with a few more controls to zoom and pan round the map, but this is a fascinating insight into Liverpool’s current role as a port, and the national context in which it sits. I could quite happily while a way an hour or so each day just exploring the map, and the site as a whole clearly has Merseyside origins and a Mersey focus. Go and have a look!
The Observer reports on a survey by McBains Cooper which suggests that giving Grand Designs-like makeovers to Britain’s vacant listed buildings could help with the shortfall of up 1 million homes.
The suggestion is that the hundreds of listed buildings which are currently out of use could be converted to flats and houses. However, the main objection is the red tape and hassle that owners expect to have to go through to get plans accepted.
Stanley Dock by Paul Holloway, via Flickr
Having seen, and mapped, the listed buildings most at risk in Liverpool, according to English Heritage, I know that a great many of them lay dormant, without use and without any plans for the future. My favourite is the tobacco warehouse at Stanley Dock. This is a colossal building, and identical to all intents and purposes to the warehouses at the King’s Dock which are now plush and expensive footballers’ homes, and which ensure the preservation of these globally important structures. There seems no reason why the Stanley Dock warehouses couldn’t be put to similar use. New flats are also found all along Waterloo Road, occupying former derelict buildings. Perhaps it is only a matter of time before Stanley Dock is converted. Maybe the owner has been waiting for the best time. But these kinds of projects need to be started sooner rather than later. How many flats could you fit in that warehouse, plus shops, parking and maybe offices on the ground floor? Granted, at the moment these buildings are a tad out of the way of the city centre, but the location must be attractive to many who would save on transport costs to the offices and shops in town.
There also has to be the one project which starts the regeneration of the entire area all the way up Waterloo Road to Nelson and Huskisson Docks. The main thing to remember, however, is that the housing shortfall is not with the wealthy King’s Dock flat owner types. It’s with the thousands of families who can’t afford a house, so it would be no good to create another ‘exclusive’ gated community. Could a Stanley Dock scheme both ensure the preservation of the warehouse structure and provide a more accessible housing scheme than Kings or East Waterloo Docks?
Of course, there are other vacant listed buildings in Liverpool, crying out for regeneration. What buildings in your area could benefit from such a scheme?