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!
Coat of arms above the Queensway Tunnel, Liverpool. By Alli' Cat' (from Flickr)
This weekend was the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Queensway Tunnel. The National Museums Liverpool blog has an article on the topic, along with links to several online resources, mainly photos. There are some great pictures of the tunnel being constructed, along with other construction schemes (the Anglican Cathedral and ships’ engines). These are from the Stuart Bale collection owned by National Museums Liverpool. In addition, there is the Queensway Mersey Tunnel album which is reproduced page by page (use the links on the right hand side to read each page). A highlight is the ‘mystery figure‘ who climbs up the side of a nearby building for a better view – being caught on camera in the process!
In other news, the Liverpool One scheme has been shortlisted for the Sterling Prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The design won a regional RIBA award in May.
The latest edition of the free Liverpool Link newsletter has a fairly long article about West Derby trams. Recently, roadworks on Mill Lane have revealed the old iron rails which the trams ran along – single lane with passing loops – and which were permanently visible until around 1970. Green trams (to Green Lane, of course!), and white first class trams ran along the route, until replaced soon after the last World War by motor bus services. Another still-visible reminder is a small junction box on the corner of the cottages leading to St. Mary’s Church. If I’d have read the article in time I would have tried to get a photo, but alas I was too slow before I had to leave Liverpool for New Year! If I find I’ve actually got one hidden on my computer somewhere, I’ll add it, but in the mean time go to West Derby village and have a look for it – it’s a reminder of a disappeared age!
For those of you interested in finding out more about history and archaeology on the Internet, the Council for British Archaeology has a new site (www.britarch.ac.uk), which has been launched for the 2009. As well as a more modern layout, the site gives you links to online resources such as the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB), and publications such as the Council’s own British Archaeology Magazine, as well as advice on how to get involved in archaeology, or keep up to date with archaeology in the news.
Finally, it is now 2009. Liverpool is no longer the European Capital of Culture. That accolade belongs to Vilnius in Lithuania and Linz in Austria. But Liverpudlians took this year’s celebrations to their hearts, took pride in the events, and took personally any attack on Liverpool deserving such an honour. Ringo will certainly remember that. But the greatest challenge has always been what comes after. Liverpool One is all but complete, although Zavvi didn’t survive to see its new shop in the development. The new Museum of Liverpool is rapidly taking shape. And numerous projects have sprung up or been given new lifeblood by the injection of money and interest in the city. I can’t help but think that all this momentum will be carried on by the city. Despite the huge numbers of tourists who came to Liverpool in 2008, many more will not have been able to make it, and will come next year, or the year after. Thousands more will have told their friends, who will make the trip in the not too distant future. As long as we’re here to welcome in the same way we’ve welcomed people throughout our thousand year history, Liverpool will always be the Capital of Culture.
Everton FC’s controversial plans to move to a new stadium in Kirkby are strengthening the case for “line one”, the non-capitalised tram scheme from Liverpool city centre to the outskirts. This follows claims in mid-April that Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly was ready to approve the £328m transport link.
Of course, trams are nothing new in Liverpool, which can trace their history back to 1869, and the 16 horse-drawn trams which were brought into use then. The service stopped on August 14th, 1957, when Liverpool discarded the trams in favour of buses. The network left behind many remnants embedded in the towns fabric, from the central reservations of the suburbs to the cobbles under the tarmac of the city centre streets.
Another thing which stands in favour of recreating the tram system shapes the very city we see today. As I mentioned, many of the wide boulevards which snake through the suburbs, such as Edge Lane, Muirhead Avenue and Queen’s Drive. Hidden under the grass the tracks no doubt still lie there. Of course it wouldn’t make sense to try to re-use the rusty metal, but the long curves of the roads themselves lend well to the three or four carriages which modern tramways like those in Sheffield and Manchester. In fact, if you look at a map of Liverpool, you can see how the tramways of the last century, and the routes people took into work – the financiers, traders and sailors – had an influence on the growth and development – the very shape – of the city in its boom era.
Some news about the main website: I’m releasing all the information on the website under a Creative Commons License, specifically the Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa), which means you are allowed to create works based on my work, as long as it’s not for commercial reasons, and you are willing to share what you’ve created too. It’s all in the spirit of sharing! For more details on what the license means, read the easy and short version, or the longer, legalese-heavy code.