Two stories come together this week which conjure up memories of Liverpool in the 1980s (limited memories for me personally, as I was two when the Garden Festival was on!).
The Garden Festival site is finally beginning the last segment of its journey of regeneration. The company Langtree are the developers, who hope to begin work in November with the site being completed in a year. The £250 million redevelopment will include restoration of many of the gardens, and the building of homes. The BBC story seems to suggest that the site has been derelict for the 25 years since the Festival, which I would suggest cruelly overlooks Pleasure Island, scene of many an exciting Bank Holiday in the mid-1990s. 😉
The related story is that Lord Heseltine gave a speech yesterday to a conference celebrating 25 years of the Mersey Basin campaign, an effort to clean up the River Mersey. Lord Heseltine warned against resting on our laurels. The river is cleaner now than it has been since the Industrial Revolution, but this should be “the platform to leap forward, not the opportunity to congratulate ourselves on a job completed.”
Those who know their recent Liverpool history will be aware that Lord Heseltine was the initial force behind the 1984 Garden Festival, although the then ‘Minister for Merseyside’ was often criticised for ignoring the deeper problems of Liverpool, and settling for this rather ‘cosmetic’ and temporary fix. However, it has been pointed out that the festival raised the spirits of the region, and showed what a co-ordinated effort with the Merseyside Development Corporation could produce.
Of related interest is the fact that Otterspool Promenade on which the festival site stands was created from the dumping of household waste and debris from the Queensway tunnels from the 1930s, a process which clearly had some detrimental impact on the river, and meant that the natural features of Otterspool and Dingle Point were lost beneath the concrete which later capped the promenade.
It also goes to show that even recent history is constantly impacting on the landscape, shaping the city we live in! Feel free to share your Festival memories, or your views on the site in general!
Note: The photo above is from a collection of photos of the derelict Garden Festival site by MC =) on Flickr. This is a great collection of photos, though tinged with a slight spookiness and desolation. Plus an abandoned typewriter. It’s full of Creative Commons goodness too, so have a look!