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Posts tagged ‘photos’

Liverpool: a port of world significance

Screenshot of the introduction to a photo essay

Liverpool: a port of world significance, on ViewFinder

There are many sources of information we can use to investigate Liverpool’s history. There is the local Historic Environment Record (HER), the many libraries, and the local record office.

On a national scale, and a counterpart to the HER, is the National Monuments Record (NMR) in Swindon, which has been part of English Heritage since 1999. The NMR holds millions of photos, plans and other documents, some of which it puts online.

When I first started work for the NMR I played a small role in the expansion of ViewFinder, and this is still my favourite English Heritage site. One of the best, but little-known features are the entrancingly-titledĀ Photo Essays, one of which is called Liverpool: a port of world significance.

This is a short introduction followed by 12 images taken from the NMR’s archives, with captions written by Keith Falconer, one time Head of Industrial Archaeology for English Heritage.

It was written a little while ago now, and some of the pictures feel a little out of date (the view across from the Albert Dock to the Pier Head seems to be missing… something) but it’s refreshing to read about the city’s history and architecture from an author who doesn’t appear to feel the hot breath of passionate Scousers looking over his shoulder. He gives the city its due without hyperbole, and acknowledges that it was, indeed, a city of world importance.

As well as the Pier Head and Stanley Docks, Falconer takes in civic buildings like the Town Hall, and the under-appreciated Oriel Chambers, one of the first iron-framed buildings in the world.

Once you’ve read that, there are a couple of other Photo Essays which might take your fancy, but don’t forget to look at ViewFinder’s entire collection of Liverpool photos. There’s stuff from over 150 years of history, including photos that aren’t that old, but are already becoming important records of Merseyside’s past.

Found any gems?

National Archives UK Photo Finder

Photo card showing the Cunard Building and the Liver Building, from The National Archives

Cunard and Liverpool Buildings, Liverpool, Lancs., from UK Photo Finder

The National Archives have produced UK Photo Finder, a map-based tool for finding historic photos in your area.

The free tool is one of their ‘Lab’ projects, and so is open for comments and queries, though you may find a few bugs here and there (one user found it doesn’t work on Firefox for the Mac, and I’ve found it can occasionally refresh at annoying moments). Nip on to the site and have a play around.

There are 31 photos of Liverpool City Centre (although there’s a sneaky one of the Sefton Park Peter Pan statue in there); 5 attached to Huyton; and 18 on the Wirral.

The images are also shown attached to their record cards, keeping the photos ‘in context’ as archives, not just as photographs.

The photos at the moment are exclusively from the important Dixon-Scott collection, although I suspect that if this pilot is successful, they will extend it to other collections. I hope they do, as this is a really great site. Dixon-Scott is of great interest to readers of this blog, as he saw and recorded the changing landscape of Britain with the expressed aim of preserving what he saw as the disappearing landscape.

It’s also quiet similar to the independently produced (and ‘crowd-sourced’) Historypin project, which I also recommend you have a look at (and which also has a few bugs to iron out).

Criticism for Liverpool regeneration plans, and new blog on Liverpool’s lost historic buildings

Photo of West Tower, Brook Street Liverpool, as viewed from the Seacombe promenade

West Tower, Brook Street, Liverpool, by E Pollock via Geograph

We’ve moved a step closer to Peel’s vision of ‘Liverpool Waters’ with funding being secured for the 54 storey Richmond Properties/Y1 tower towards the north docks, at the junction of the Strand and Leeds Street. It’s 25m taller than the current tallest tower, Tower West, but has been redesigned (again) after a failed attempt at getting planning permission in 2007.

Having failed to get the sleek design past the Council planning committee, it seems that the architects have thrown a bucket of Sticklebricks at the south side, to see what sticks (check out the third pic in the slideshow via the link above). Comments in the Architect’s Journal include the terms ‘pig ugly’, ‘hubris’ and ‘shoebox’ (though the third of these is a Wayne Colquhoun comment, so pinches of salt all round).

CABE criticise Pathfinder scheme

Further criticism for Liverpool’s attempts at regeneration come from Colquhoun’s arch enemies, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The commission has hit out at the New Heartlands Housing Market Renewal scheme, particularly parking courts and the quality of housing. SAVE’s Will Palin added to the judgment, claiming that “swathes of good Victorian terraced housing been emptied and left to rot”, to be replaced by inferior buildings.

New Pictorial History of Liverpool

OK, enough about planning for now. Adrian McEwen (via Twitter) pointed out the new Streets of Liverpool website.

This blog brings you views of Liverpool from across the 19th and 20th Centuries, with a paragraph or two about what you can see in the photos. The February 8th post is all about Lost Churches of Liverpool, which is a kind of post-script to the 2001 book The Churches of Liverpool by David Lewis, which was published by the blog author.

It’s great to see some little admissions of what the publisher would have liked to have done better in the book (an index, for example), but to make up for this (perhaps!) future blog posts will give us photos of the greatest losses to the city, starting with St George’s Church, which stood where Liverpool Castle once was, and where now we find the Victoria Monument.

The most recent post as of this writing does a similar service to other lost Liverpool buildings, including arguably the most-missed: the Customs House, which was needlessly demolished in the post-Blitz redevelopment.

Make sure you keep an eye on this new blog – it promises to be a good one!

Liverpool photographs on ViewFinder

The Homepage of the ViewFinder website from the NMR

The Homepage of the ViewFinder website from the NMR

I’ve known about this site for a while. OK, I admit it, I worked on the project myself for five months in 2007. But the ViewFinder website from the National Monuments Record is an amazing resource, where you can access around 80,000 images from the NMR’s collection for free. Try out the results for an Advanced Search for Liverpool. My favourites are the ‘merchant palaces’ of West Derby, mainly because that’s where I grew up!

Let me know what you think of the site!