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Posts tagged ‘otterspool’

The riverside, high rises and shopping centres – old landscapes of Liverpool

Liverpool Landscapes is all about the discovery of Merseyside’s historic landscape. This week we take a look at photographic, video, text and map evidence for what once made up the city of Liverpool.

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Local Knowledge, Dating, and Liverpool’s building milestones

A photo of Clayton Square just before demolition in 1986

Clayton Square just before demolition in 1986...

I’ve often written about researching local history, either through maps, books, or old photos. But what’s been highlighted for me recently is that eventually all this feeds back, and you can occasionally use your knowledge gained through research to apply to a particular problem.

Most maps have dates on them. I don’t know about you, but I find a map’s publishing date of absolute importance, to the same extent as it is on a photograph. As becomes clear when you try to trace the changes in an area over time, the best results come from having the smallest possible gap between two maps in terms of their date.

So when I recently bought a couple of A-Z style street maps off eBay, I was disappointed to find no evidence of a date on them. I could tell they were more than a few years old by the paper they were printed on, and the price (“3/-“). I could also tell that they were (only just) post-Second World War (the Customs House was gone, but South Castle Street still ran straight through where Liverpool Crown Court now stands). But as a landscapophile (there’s that word again) and a cartophile, I really needed to know.

The dates of these maps turned out to be c.1962. How did I know? The progress of the Otterspool Promenade happened to be something  I’d been researching for my post on the history of Knott’s Hole. The promenade was already started, but incomplete, and the extent to which this was mapped pointed to the exact date. Cross-referencing this with a few other features (suburban development, dockland changes) confirmed the likelihood of this point in history.

So, you may use maps to increase your knowledge of local history, but you can also use your local history knowledge to feed back on the things you see in photographs and maps (and the photos and maps themselves).

Here are a few other key points in Liverpool’s history that may help you spot when your source was created:

  • Otterspool Promenade opened: 1950
  • Football stadia (both Goodison Park and Anfield): 1892
  • Norris Green and other suburbs: 1920s – 1930s
  • Filling in of St George’s Dock: 1899
  • Seaforth Container Port built: 1960s – 1972
  • Slum clearance in Toxteth: 1966 – 1972
  • Catholic Cathedral completed: 1967
  • Anglican Cathedral completed: 1978
  • St John’s Market destroyed: blitz – 1941, demolished 1964
  • St John’s Shopping Centre (and beacon) built: 1969
  • Clayton Square redeveloped: 1986
  • Garden Festival site built: 1984
  • Queensway Tunnel opened: 1934

Are there any others you can think of? Remember, these are the things that remodelled acres of the cityscape – things that, quite literally, redraw the map!

The Mersey and its Banks – Regeneration

Liverpool Garden Festival by MC =), from Flickr

Liverpool Garden Festival by MC =), from Flickr

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!