Update: The BBC has reported that the Main Bridewell was sold at auction for £450,000 to a developer. Though the article mentions that ‘In 2004 developers discussed turning the building into a luxury hotel’, I will be waiting with bated breath to see what they actually do.
One of those days when several interesting stories come along at once!
Lowlands, the Grade II listed merchants villa in Hayman’s Green, West Derby has just reopened following a £1.2m restoration project. The villa was designed and constructed by Thomas Haigh (architect also of Marks & Spencer’s building in Church Street) and was owned and occupied by a succession of wealthy merchants and financiers. Vast areas of West Derby were occupied by similar men in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The Inland Revenue occupied the buildings following war damage to the India Buildings on Dale Street in Liverpool city centre. Since 1957 it has been owned by the West Derby Community Association, and in the 1960s was a centre for the emerging Merseybeat scene, witnessing performances by the Quarrymen, Herman’s Hermits and Billy J. Kramer in the basement Pillar Club or the main hall upstairs. This history places it on similar ground to the Cashbar, the more famous club and coffee house just along the road at number 8.
The Garden Festival site is a place filled with memories for generations of families who all descended on it over the space of five months in 1984 (I distinctly remember the Postman Pat exhibit being centre of my attention). After lying derelict for many years (with the exception of Pleasure Island which occupied the site in the 1990s) £2.1m has been released to allow the redevelopment of the site to commence. The North West Development Agency have put up the cash which will see a project to restore the Japanese and Chinese gardens and pagodas, as well as the streams, lakes and woodland which cover the site, which will become another green area for the people of Liverpool. Owners Langtree maintain their ambitions to build 1300 homes on the site, a plan which was approved after a public enquiry last year. A further £1.6m is being sought from the North West European Regional Development Fund. No real mention of Pleasure Island on the news sites though…
The Main Bridewell on Cheapside, just of Dale Street is going for auction and is expected to fetch up to £500,000. It’s proximity to the magistrates court on Dale Street means it was used to house defendants before trial, and was originally built in 1866 to hold petty criminals. The building closed in 1999.
for more information on why the Bridewell was so named, see the Encyclopedia.com question on the Bridewell.
Finally, in a mysterious and disturbing story, original Victorian features are going missing from the area of Kensington in west Liverpool. Cobbles, cast-iron railings and original street signs are disappearing from the streets around Edinburgh and Leopold Roads, but no one (residents or the Council) seem to know who is pulling up these features. Rumour has it that the items (including stone setts taken from ships which used them as ballast on voyages from Turkey) are being sold on the black market. Areas removed are being replaced with tarmac. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the council.